Aberdeen City Region Deal

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th December 2015.

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Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it has taken to support the Aberdeen city region deal bid since it received the statement of intent. (S4O-04907)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council submitted the statement of intent to both the Scottish and United Kingdom Governments on 4 September. Since then, Scottish Government officials have been working closely with both councils and the UK Government to provide support as the councils develop their proposals.

The Scottish Government cities team has met regularly with representatives from both councils. Officials from a number of policy areas, including housing, innovation, digital connectivity and Transport Scotland, have provided support and have been involved in detailed discussions around the proposals. The Scottish Government continues to work closely with both councils as the proposals evolve.

Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat

The Chancellor of the Exchequer referenced the negotiations on the city region deal in his autumn statement and spending review, which was welcome. He then went on to make a decision regarding carbon capture and storage funding, which in effect sabotaged one of the north-east’s key projects.

Given the economic importance of the north-east to Scotland’s economy, will the finance secretary back the city region deal in his budget statement next week and, unlike the UK Government decision, will he make sure that his budget decisions complement and support the various strands of the city region deal rather than undermine them?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I certainly agree with Alison McInnes’s point on the importance of taking complementary decisions. I am in complete agreement with her about the disappointing Peterhead decision. It is a regrettable decision on a technology that could have created—and could still create—a global opportunity for Scotland. However, that possibility has undoubtedly been interrupted by the arbitrary spending review decision.

As I have indicated to Alison McInnes, the Government is supportive and sympathetic towards the Aberdeen city region deal and we are working constructively with the two councils and with the local business community to take it forward. It is a welcome step that Sir Ian Wood has chosen to give formal leadership to the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire business community in recent days.

The city region deal is a joint venture with the UK Government, so we will work collaboratively with the UK Government to advance the proposals to ensure that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire continue to make a strong contribution to the Scottish economy.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I welcome the cabinet secretary’s words. Can he confirm when he anticipates the Scottish Government, together with the UK Government, making a decision on the city region deal proposals?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I cannot give Mr Macdonald a definitive answer. As I have just indicated to Alison McInnes, we are pursuing the proposals jointly with the UK Government. It is better if we take them forward in a spirit of partnership and collaboration, and that is exactly what we are trying to do. However, we will make sure that progress is timely and that any announcement is made as quickly as possible.