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Dundee Economic Summit: Audience hears Tay Cities Deal is imminent

Mike Galloway leads a discussion on the Waterfront development during Wednesday's Dundee Economic Summit.
Mike Galloway leads a discussion on the Waterfront development during Wednesday's Dundee Economic Summit.

The Tay Cities Deal is two months from completion, one of the leading proponents of the project has revealed.

Two years in the making, the deal would see up to £1 billion worth of investment injected into the Dundee, Perth, Angus and North Fife economies in the coming years.

The announcement was made during a speech at the Dundee Economic Summit by DCT Media executive chair Ellis Watson, who served also as chair of the Tay Cities Enterprise Executive (TCEE).

The first panel listen to questions from the audience.

Wednesday morning’s event at the Gardyne Theatre was attended by business leaders, civic heads and budding entrepreneurs exploring the economic realities facing Dundee.

Mr Watson, who presented a talk to more than 240 attendees on building a strong Tay Cities regional economy, explained as much as £380 million would be inwardly invested by the council and its partners.

It is hoped at least another £700 million of investment will come from the UK and Scottish governments.

Mr Watson said: “The city deal has been assembled over the last two years and will be completed in the next two months.

“The process was a unique example of how these partners can work together, not just as individual cities but as a region.

“The deal will be a long-term investment to deliver a long-term economic future.

“It is not a handout but an investment worthy of us – to give the region the tools needed to make improvements.

“Our ambition is to deliver as much as possible but it is highly unlikely we will get it all in one go.

“Half will come from the Scottish and UK governments, the rest from local governments in the region and private businesses.

“We in the private sector need to do a lot more. This will be one of the single biggest investments the city has ever had.”

Council administration leader John Alexander said the Cities Deal coming to fruition would be one of the economic benefits coming in the next year.

He said: “The Cities Deal will be concluded this year and will help us tackle the social ills Dundee faces.

“I love my job and I am very proud to be the council leader of such a bold, dynamic city but that is not to say everything is rosy.

“Making these changes is about challenging and addressing the city’s problems.

“We have launched programmes like the fairness commission, the drugs commission and we are working with partners like the Breakthrough initiative.

“There is a further body of work to do to challenge the social problems in Dundee but we will actively deliver for the people in this city.”

It is hoped the Cities Deal will provide as many as 15,000 job opportunities over the course of the coming decade.

Projects including the Tayside International Aviation Academy, oil and gas decommissioning and a revamped cruise terminal have all been put forward as part of the deal.

During Wednesday’s forum attendees heard from V&A Dundee building project director John Tavendale and Tim Reeve, deputy director and chief operating officer of the V&A in London.

Mr Reeve praised the city for its regeneration, saying it had transformed beyond recognition since his first visit in 2013.

New park for waterfront

A new play park inspired by one of the River Tay’s largest visitors is to be built on the waterfront as part of its regeneration.

Delivering his final address as executive director of city development before retiring later this year, Mike Galloway urged the city to continue believing the “impossible is possible” as he reflected on the city’s transformation.

The new play area, which will feature a large, interactive life-sized whale, will sit in Slessor Gardens where Kengo Kuma’s wooden pavilion is currently located to the south east of the park.

Mike Galloway addresses the audience.

The cabin, crafted from wood collected from trees which had fallen in Templeton woods, will return to its original home in the near future.

Mr Galloway also announced new routes are being planned for the city’s airport, although would not divulge to the assembled crowd where these would be.

The controversial site six building will be fully clad, Mr Galloway said, by the time the V&A museum opens in September – adding this would put the scale of the office block into perspective.

Further to this, it is hoped construction on the first stage of the project would be completed by next spring.

Dundee City Council was asked to provide an image of the play area – which was displayed to attendees of the economic summit – but it was not sent.


Comment: A vision with a healthy dose of realism

Sieze the day was the message Dundee’s business and community leaders were sent home with after the latest Dundee Economic Summit, writes Graham Huband, business editor.

They were told to grab the sizeable opportunity offered by the V&A’s impending opening, make the most of the upcoming £1 billion-plus Tay Cities Deal and help create a better, fairer and more productive society for generations to come.

There was the inevitable economic cheerleading but, refreshingly, the summit’s speakers were not afraid to talk about the challenges facing our society.

A lighter moment as the audience are invited to don #SunnyDundee sunglasses and tweet.

Ellis Watson spoke of deprivation in Dundee and the poor life chances of care experienced people and those living in breadline (and below) households.

Council leader John Alexander put forward a positive narrative, but he also did not pretend everything in the garden was rosy.

But a quick flick through waterfront supremo Mike Galloway’s photo album showing such horrors as the old train station, Tayside House walkways and Olympia showed just how far Dundee has come in relatively short order.

It showed what momentum can do for a city.

The challenge – with Tay Cities on the horizon – is not just to keep that ball rolling but to help it gather pace.

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