The UK Government has been accused of letting 6,000 jobs “hang in the balance” across Tayside and Fife due to their refusal to finalise the Tay Cities Deal following 20 months of inaction.
Politicians from the region have stepped up their calls for Westminster to sign off on their £150 million share of the £700 million investment with major developments unable to break-ground due to the ongoing uncertainty.
Multi-million-pound projects at the James Hutton Institute and the regeneration of Perth City Centre as a tourism and cultural hub all rely heavily on the funding.
Chris Law, SNP MP for Dundee West, urged Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions to get the deal signed following months of delays.
Mr Law said: “Six thousand jobs hang in the balance while this constant delay continues, and the situation has been described, quite rightly, as ‘ridiculous’ by the chief executive of the region’s chamber of commerce.”
Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, backed his SNP colleague’s calls for action.
He said: “This project commenced in 2016, so it remains extremely concerning that by July 2020 we still have no final signing of the Tay Cities Deal.
“I have been in talks with a number of the projects who are just really waiting on the green light from the UK Government.
“Without that final say-so, they cannot risk the financial uncertainty of putting the first shovel in the ground.”
The latest calls come after the council leaders of Tayside and Fife demanded the UK Government finalise the deal fearing the £700 million project had been “forgotten”.
All four local authority leaders claim there has been “extensive slippage” in the deal since the Head of Terms were agreed by both the Scottish and UK Governments in November 2018.
They lambasted the slow process as “unacceptable”, saying the 6,000 jobs and £400 million of investment outlined in the deal would be key to the economic recovery on the region following the Covid-19 crisis.
The cross-party political heads of Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Angus and Fife wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, asking him to get his government’s £150 million part of the deal signed as a matter of urgency.
Signed by John Alexander, Murray Lyle, David Fairweather and David Ross, the letter states: “Whilst we fully understand the challenges that last year’s general election and Covid-19 have imposed on the UK Government, we are sure you will understand the frustration that the deal has not yet been signed after almost 19 months.
“To the outside world, it might appear that the Tay Cities Deal has been forgotten about.”
The Prime Minister said: “I know that we have done a number of growth deals in Scotland recently and that we intend to do more.”
A HM Treasury Spokesperson said: “The Government is committed to investing in all parts of the UK, and is providing £150m for the Tay Cities Deal to create jobs and enable growth in Dundee, Perth and the wider region, which is part of our investment of £1.4 billion in City and Growth Deals across Scotland.
“We are working hard with local partners and the Scottish government to make the deal a success.”