The Edinburgh City Region Deal has finally come to fruition – and this great Capital has taken another tremendous step forward.This deal, the product of years of negotiations, is worth an estimated £1 billion to Edinburgh and its surroundings. It will deliver real investment and make a genuine difference to the lives of people.
The formation of this City Region Deal began under the last Edinburgh Council Labour administration – and this is yet more evidence of what Labour can deliver when it is in power. I am proud of our councillors, who fought tirelessly to bring this investment to Edinburgh, and would like to pay particular tribute to ex-council leader Andrew Burns, who was unrelenting in his efforts to secure this deal and so many other things for the capital. The Deal is a prime example of local and national governments working together to deliver investment, jobs and services for the people who elected them.
Too often, the SNP has merely paid lip-service to City Deals – or worse, used them as a tool to stoke grievance, double-counting the money it has begrudgingly agreed to invest while complaining the UK has not given enough. Such is the SNP’s vitriolic hatred of the UK that it cannot even bring itself to half-heartedly welcome a little bit of good news. But now, cities across Scotland have billions of pounds of extra money flowing to our communities.
Of course, it is not enough alone to mitigate the crippling effects of Tory austerity, which has left our public services in disarray and millions of people on the breadline. Only the Labour government in waiting will end austerity and truly deliver for the people of Scotland and the UK.
That does not detract from the fact this investment will not only immediately improve lives through badly needed infrastructure projects – it will also drive business growth, create jobs and boost incomes. That is why City Region Deals should not end with our great industrial centres like Glasgow or Aberdeen, or our fantastic capital of Edinburgh.
Cities and regions across Scotland are crying out for investment, funding and support – and that is one of the reasons Labour has a plan for a Scottish Investment Bank, which would be worth a £20bn boost to Scotland’s economy.
But more deals will deliver more growth, more jobs and more services people across Scotland vitally need.
It is now up to the UK and Scottish Governments to deliver more of these multi-billion pound deals so we can truly create a society that works for the many, not the few.
Kezia Dugdale MSP is Scottish Labour leader