BBC News - Edinburgh and south-east Scotland are to receive a multi-million pound boost after the latest City Deal was agreed.

The UK and Scottish governments are each investing £300m in the project.

The money will be used to support innovation, infrastructure, housing, tourism and culture including a new concert hall in St Andrew Square.

Contributions from councils and universities are expected to take the total investment in the deal to about £1bn.

The money will support the creation of five new innovation hubs, including in robotics and space technologies.

Investments at Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Universities are envisaged.

'Ahead of the game'

The Edinburgh and South East of Scotland City Region Deal was due to be announced at the end of March but was delayed by the elections.

City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey, said: "I am delighted that this ambitious deal for the region has now been agreed, creating up to 21,000 new jobs.

"This will allow us to transform the area delivering high-quality jobs, housing, critical infrastructure, a new skills programme, and a world-class concert hall.

"The significant investment in innovation and culture is also to be welcomed as they are both hugely important to the region's economy. This will put us at the forefront of data-driven innovation ensuring we are ahead of the game in a technology driven world."

Shona Haslam, Scottish Borders Council leader, said: "This is excellent news for the Scottish Borders. We will not only benefit from specific funding but also from a stronger and more vibrant city region.

"For the Borders specifically, this deal will enable us to maximise the delivery of affordable housing, stimulate private sector investment and support local jobs, and will be a further step towards ensuring that our young people can see a future for themselves within the Scottish Borders. Key to this is the promotion of inclusive growth.

"A focus for us will be driving forward the development of the Central Borders Business Park in Tweedbank."

David Ross, co-leader of Fife Council, said: "This deal is a step forward in creating more jobs in Fife, helping our residents access more employment opportunities, as well as increase housing availability, and unlock economic opportunity.

"The deal announced today falls short of what we were looking for to accelerate growth and ensure that the benefits of that growth are distributed more equally across the region, but it is a significant step in the right direction."

'Ambitious deal'

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said the deal would have a major economic impact on the region.

He said: "The UK government is investing £300m in the Edinburgh and South East of Scotland City Region Deal, which will boost the economy of Edinburgh and the whole of south east Scotland for decades to come.

"The Edinburgh deal will focus on the capital's strengths of new technology, innovation and culture. It will make a real difference to the lives of people in the region, creating jobs and prosperity and driving investment."

The Scottish government's economy secretary Keith Brown said: "I am very pleased that we have been able to get to the stage of achieving such an ambitious deal for the region.

"Edinburgh and its city region is an area of huge importance to the Scottish economy. It contains over a quarter of Scotland's population and contributes £33bn to the Scottish and UK economies."

He said the Scottish government would invest up to £25m in the region's workforce to reduce skills shortages and gaps and had committed £140m to transport projects, including £120m for improvements to the A720, Edinburgh City bypass and £20m for improvements at west Edinburgh. He also said the government would invest £65m in new housing.

"We will also be investing in innovation and that will focus on ensuring businesses and communities across the region can benefit from opportunities through world-class business infrastructure," he said.

'Fulfilling ambitions'

He added that the Scottish government recognised that festivals were a crucial part of the culture and economy of Scotland so it was also investing £10m towards a new concert venue.

"We will reinforce Edinburgh's reputation as a leading centre for music and the performing arts through investing in the proposed Impact project, working with existing philanthropic and commercial partners to deliver a new world-class performance venue in the heart of Edinburgh, and a new home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra," he said.

"Taken together these projects will help the region continue to thrive and grow, fulfilling our ambitions for the region to be one of the fairest and most inclusive areas in the country."

Gordon Henderson, the Federation of Small Businesses senior development manager, said: "Two years of hard work by a great many local government staff and politicians, past and present, has gone into getting this deal signed - congratulations to them all.

"It is absolutely vital that business owners in Peebles, Bathgate, Glenrothes and Dunbar feel the benefit of the deal's huge spending power as much as those in central Edinburgh to ensure the regional economy as a whole benefits."

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: "This is an incredibly important and exciting milestone for the city, the ambitious £1.1bn injection of funding will help extend our reputation as a global centre for culture, innovation and technology.

"There's no doubt that this deal will have a tremendously positive impact on the city's economy, it will enable us to remain competitive and reinforce our reputation as a world-class leader in arts, research and industry."

The regional bid involved six councils - City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian.

It is the fourth UK City Deal in Scotland, following investments in Glasgow, Inverness, and Aberdeen.

Source: BBC News

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