The Tay Cities Deal should be signed as a matter of urgency to help protect the region against any post-coronavirus recession, local politicians have demanded.
The leaders of Fife, Dundee and Perth and Kinross councils have been unable to gather to finalise the paperwork for the multi-million cash boost due to lockdown restrictions.
It is understood the different organisations involved have been working behind the scenes to identify a way to push the £700 million deal over the line while still recognising social distancing guidelines.
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said: “We must, without further hesitation, deploy the investment.
“It should form an important part of the region’s recovery from Covid-19 and I hope colleagues and governments will join forces to get this money into the economy to create much needed jobs.
“Time is of the essence. The outline projects have been agreed, the overall sum has been agreed and so the only thing to agree is when we can start creating jobs and delivering projects. The people of Tayside can wait no longer.”
Perth Council leader Murray Lyle said his authority has already taken a “financial risk” and started on one of the projects, a £23 million transformation of Perth City Hall.
He said: “That was done at our risk to be fair but it would be good to get on with the deal.
“I do understand we have really had to put other things on the back burner to manage the crisis for the time being, but as soon as we return to normality I would hope we can get on with it.”
An array of projects across Tayside are waiting for the deal to be finalised, in addition to the £30 million redevelopment of the Guardbridge paper mill site by St Andrews University in Fife.
David Ross, co-leader of Fife Council, said: “We see this project as important for more than the local area as we hope it will be the launchpad for many successful new businesses that will move on and flourish in other parts of Fife.
“It would be a considerable loss to the whole region if this project was put in doubt due to the delay.”
Dundee councillor Richard McCready has made repeated calls for action.
He said: “I have been hugely frustrated at the lack of progress on the deal. I recognise that the coronavirus crisis means that progress has halted yet again.
“We need to reflect on the fact that this crisis is already having an impact economically on many of the poorest in society.”
A UK government spokesman said: “All partners are working to progress the deal but we are very conscious that the fight against Covid-19 rightly remains the priority for all partners involved in the Tay City Deal.”