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Working in the common good

Mike Galloway discussing the waterfront regeneration.
Mike Galloway discussing the waterfront regeneration.

The proposed Tay Cities deal may not be the economic Holy Grail if you live in Edinburgh or London, but for Courier Country it comes pretty close.

I cannot remember another opportunity that has come this way in recent years with anything like the transformatory potential of the cities deal.

What we are talking about here is a £400 million infrastructure package that will leverage hundreds of millions more of private inward investment to provide a platform for sustainable growth for the next generation.

What else has the power to improve the prospects of tens of thousands of people living in communities from Crail to Crieff to Kirriemuir at a stroke?

I suspect the answer is nothing does.

Certainly’s Dundee’s much lauded £1 billion waterfront development doesn’t have the power that a city deal would.

And that’s not my opinion, that’s the view of man who has spent years trying to re-stitch the city with the Tay .

In fact, city development director Mike Galloway believes a £400 million Tay Cities deal has the potential to be worth 10 waterfronts to this region.

If he is even half right in that analysis then we should be everything in our power to persuade Westminster to sign on the dotted line and get the powers-that-be at Holyrood to raid the biscuit tin.

They’ve done it for Glasgow.

They’ve done it for Inverness and Aberdeen and it appears the political will is now there to sprinkle that same economic stardust on Dundee and Perth.

But political tides change and I worry about the time it is taking to put the Tay Cities bid together.

This is not the first time I have raised this concern and I am glad to say I now have a Tay Cities deal overview document on my desk.

That is progress and I like the four I’s – investment, innovation, inclusive growth and internalisation – that has been placed at its heart.

But we don’t have an actual bid and there are still hurdles to overcome.

Securing genuine agreement and buy-in from the various political power bases in Angus, Perth, Dundee and Fife is one such obstacle.

It is absolutely key to success but that’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen to potentially spoil the broth.

I hope that doesn’t happen and our political power brokers are able to put in-fighting aside for the common good.

By all means debate the detail, but don’t dither and risk losing the golden goose as it prepares to lay.

Delivering the bid in weeks rather than months would sent a powerful message.

It would show democracy working for the people and demonstrate to the wider world that the Tay corridor is open for business.

By anyone’s standards, that’s a prize worth grasping.

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