The long-awaited Tay Cities Deal is still no closer to being signed off, the UK Government has conceded.
The heads of term of the arrangement, which would see hundreds of millions of pounds pumped into the Tayside and North East Fife economies, was compiled in November 2018.
But with a general election, the Brexit backlog that preceded and now the global shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, some are worried the deal could be forgotten about.
North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain wrote to the prime minister in February, before the shutdown had started, calling on Boris Johnson to fulfil the promises set out by the government.
Westminster has promised to sign the “full deal” as soon as possible, but would not say whether it could be done virtually.
This money is needed now more than ever.”
Wendy Chamberlain, North East Fife MP, Lib Dems
Wendy Chamberlain said: “The terms were agreed over 18 months ago, but the final sign off has been left in limbo.
“While a general election and the coronavirus pandemic have understandably got in the way of a meeting, the squeeze on businesses and funding during the lockdown also means that this money is needed now more than ever.”
Response promises urgency 18 months on
Under-Secretary of State for Scotland Douglas Ross responded this week to Ms Chamberlain’s letter, which had been co-signed by Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie.
He said: “The UK Government is committed to getting this deal signed, either in person or virtually, as soon as possible.
“I am sure you will be aware of the pressures on government at this time, but as soon as we are able to sign the full deal, I or my officials will be in touch with the Tay Cities local partners to discuss signing arrangements.”
Long time coming
Since the initial deal was agreed, a number of changes to the original accord have been dropped or added, including £1.5 million for a space science centre in Kinross.
Plans to spend more than £3 million on a housing project in Angus, which would have seen 2,500 homes on land at RM Condor on the outskirts of Arbroath constructed were dropped.
The airfield section of the base was due to be decontaminated by the UK Government and handed over, free, to Angus Council for the construction of thousands of new homes.
Funding for 23 projects was unlocked as part of the “transformative” deal, with £150 million from both the UK and Scottish Governments to be delivered over the next decade and a half.
Under the deal more than £60m will go to the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie, £37m of investment will be ploughed into local tourism and culture, more than £10m will go towards a cyber security centre in Dundee, several million will be invested in St Andrews University’s Eden Campus and £15m will go towards a Perth bus and rail interchange project.