Aberdeen City Region Deal - weekly progress update 21st December 2015

Our final bulletin of the year looks back on some of the milestone events in the process of developing and negotiating proposals for an Aberdeen City Region Deal.

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils are continuing to work with the UK and Scottish governments and private sector partners on the plans that can help secure a successful long-term future for the north-east economy and benefit both Scotland and the wider UK.

  • February 2 – Oil and Gas summit: The First Minister of Scotland, the then Secretary of State for Scotland and senior figures from the oil and gas industry attended a high-level summit to discuss the future of the sector hosted by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils. This event provided a platform for the launch of the Aberdeen City Region Deal proposals.
  • March 18 – UK Government Budget Statement: Chancellor George Osborne announced during his Budget speech the start of negotiations with Aberdeen and Inverness around City Region Deals.
  • August 12 – Lord Dunlop in Aberdeen: Leader of Aberdeen City Council, Councillor Jenny Laing, and Co-Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes, held talks with the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary to provide an update on progress of the joint bid.
  • September 4 – Statement of Intent: A Statement of Intent was submitted by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils to UK and Scottish governments, providing a broad outline of the City Region Deal proposals to improve transport links, infrastructure and housing, while investing in innovation, research and development and internationalisation.
  • October 27 – City Region Deal at Holyrood: Representatives from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils joined a wide range of partners for an event at the Scottish Parliament to secure further support and provide information for MSPs.
  • November 25 – UK Government Autumn Statement: Chancellor George Osborne referenced the negotiations with Aberdeen in his Spending Review and Autumn Statement address to parliament. He noted that the UK Government was now implementing the City Deal with Glasgow, and that the negotiating process was continuing with Aberdeen.
  • December 7 – Formation of ONE (Opportunity North East) A new private-sector led body, Opportunity North East (ONE), was established. ONE will focus on ensuring a sustainable economic future for the region by broadening and strengthening the area’s economy. The ONE board will also play a key role as the private sector partner for the City Region Deal, assisting Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils with the negotiation process, participating in the Governance Board and encouraging the private sector to help in financing projects.
  • December 16 – Formation of Joint Committee: Councillors in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire agreed to establish a Joint Committee to oversee the implementation of the Aberdeen City Region Deal. The Joint Committee – comprising Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire council representatives and members of Opportunity North East (ONE) – will make recommendations in respect of strategic policy plans, the prioritisation of projects, improvements in the way the City Region Deal is being implemented and the setting of budgets.

Both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils also agreed a Regional Economic Strategy – a vision for the future of the north-east economy for the next 20 years – at the December 16 Full Council meetings.

Aberdeenshire Council co-leader, Councillor Richard Thomson, said: “We all know that the North East of Scotland is one of the most prosperous regions of one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. We can either shape events or be shaped by them. This strategy, together with our regeneration strategy sitting alongside it, gives us the best chance we've had in a generation to meet present and future economic challenges and to capitalise on the many opportunities we know the North East has.”

Aberdeen City Council, Councillor Jenny Laing, said: “Never has there been a greater need for this City to work with and receive support from both levels of government. We have an historic opportunity to establish a City Deal for this region which will benefit local people, the industry and indeed the UK as a whole. Let us seize that moment for the mutual benefit of all.”

ONE’s economic leadership board chairman, Sir Ian Wood, said: “The current downturn in oil and gas has cast the issues we face into even sharper relief and the business community is increasingly aware of the bleak prospect that could face us if we don’t take concerted action to secure a sustainable and balanced economy in the future. ONE will therefore targets its actions on sector-specific projects of scale – leveraging additional resources from the public and private sectors – to realise the greatest returns for the region in the future, in terms of economic growth and employment.”

This will be our last newsletter of 2015, but we will continue to update you with progress updates on the City Region Deal from January 2016 onwards.