Colette Keaveny, Glasgow City Region City Deal
Colette explained the City Deal involves £1.13 billionfunding from the UK and Scottish Governments to be spent on infrastructure over a 20 year Programme, withfurther funding for Employability and Innovation streams. It is intended that the bulk of projects will be completed within the first 10 years. Most of the funds are for infrastructure projects across the region including roads, bridges, transport and key river walls to assist a full spectrum of retail, commercial and housing developments.
In parallel there is a £4.5 million budget for skills and employment to help people enter the workforce. The Glasgow City Deal is the biggest in Scotland and, indeed, it is the second biggest in the UK after Cardiff. It’s aspiration is to raise the Gross Value Added to the regional economy by £2.2 billion as well as attract some £3.3 billion of private sector investment.
Innovation features significantly in the City Deal Strategy. Examples of this include a new Imaging Centre of Excellence at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, based on its new high resolution German MRI Scanner. It’s the first in the UK and the scanner is so big that its building had to be built around it. Out in North Lanarkshire at Newhouse there is MediCity where academics, entrepreneurs, clinicians and the business community work to improve healthcare services and medical technology. And, in the Merchant City, there is the Tontine designed to provide business spaces to provide high technology and creative firms start-upopportunities.
A key element in the City Deal strategy is Inclusive Growth. The object is not only to create new jobs but to help people back into work. Given that some have been unemployed for over 30 years, the focus is on a journey into employment rather than simply getting people into jobs. Because of experiences in the recent past with people falling out of employment quickly after getting a job, a model approach to evaluation has been put in place so that lessons can be learned. These will identify what changes might be needed to improve performanceto deliver Inclusive Growth.
Colette described a range of projects taking place across the region, too many to be covered here. However, examples included the Clyde Waterfront West End Innovation Quarter which stretches from the QEUH to Glasgow University. The new developments underway and planned at the University, recently discussed at Probus, form part of the City Deal Strategy. Further east in Sighthill, just North of the M8 on the old soda wastes, proposals have come together for 800 new homes and a new City Park. One key element ofthe plan is to erect a new iconic pedestrian and cycle bridge over the motorway improving access to and from Sighthill to the near-by City Centre. (A project for the Probus Walking Group to keep its eye on!) Close by Sighthill is another interesting project, the SMART Canal proposal which is the first of its kind in Europe. Here the Council are working with Scottish Water and Scottish Canals to improve Surface Water Control and reduce flooding risk in North Glasgow. This is achieved by telemetry predicting rainfall. If it’s likely to be significant, it automatically lowers the water level in the canal beforehand. The canal can then accommodate excess surface water previously causing local flooding. This innovative project unlocks land capable of accommodating 3,000 houses in North Glasgow.
Colette’s coverage of the City Deal was very comprehensive. Thanks are due to her for keeping us up to date on what’s happening in Glasgow and the surrounding region.