Welcome to my first Council Leader’s blog post on what is a historic day for the North East of Scotland.
Today, I was pleased to host representatives from the UK and the Scottish Governments, as well as Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes, Co-Leader of Aberdeenshire Council and Sir Ian Wood representing Opportunity North East (ONE), as we announced the signing of the Aberdeen City Region Deal.
It’s almost a year since Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils convened a summit to address the challenges facing the North Sea Oil and Gas industry. At that summit, we called for a wide-ranging package of measures to support urgently the sector at what is undoubtedly a very difficult time.
We also discussed the need for the medium and long-term diversification of our local economy, which has been a major contributor to both the Scottish and UK economies for over 40 years.
Since the summit, both councils have been working in partnership with the UK and the Scottish Governments and the private sector to develop and negotiate a City Region Deal for the North East.
Whilst the City Region is recognised worldwide as a centre of excellence for the oil and gas industry and has consistently experienced above average rates of growth in terms of population, business and enterprise, there are now a number of issues constraining our growth.
We need to compete on a global stage with other world energy cities.
For this to happen and in order to help secure our long-term economic well-being and remain an internationally competitive business market we need to do a number of things including:
- improve connectivity – both transport and digital
- boost innovation
- help to expand the harbour.
As has been announced this morning, a commitment has been made by both governments to jointly invest up to £250million over the next 10 years in the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire area.
In addition to that, we have what is in effect a second deal, with the Scottish Government committing a further £254million to fund key infrastructure improvements.
In addition to this £1/2 billion plus, there will be a contribution from both councils, and funding that will be leveraged in from the private sector.
In addition key pieces of research will be conducted into the transport infrastructure of the City Region.
Today is a starting point for the transformation of the North East of Scotland and I look forward to continuing discussions on behalf of the Council with all layers of government and the private sector to ensure that transformation is delivered.