City Deal talks still at a ‘pivotal point’

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Talks with Government over a potential City Deal are still at a ‘pivotal point’ according to council leader, Andrew Geary.

A successful City Deal bid could mean millions of pounds’ investment for infrastructure and a huge boost to the local economy.

MK was invited to bid with 20 other areas in the second wave of an initiative that promises more powers for local councils to help local growth. So far 12 bids, including Oxford and Cambridghe, have received Government backing

The Milton Keynes bid brought forward a plan that would see it keep more money raised through housing growth and any business rates created by economic growth.

Yet despite being launched with a fanfare nearly two years ago, Milton Keynes has so far been ‘snubbed’ by the government.

And Labour is warning MK is already losing out as other cities have already been given the green light.

But Councillor Geary insists the bid and subsequent negotiations had received cross party support, despite claims talks had become ‘parked’.

He said: “The talks are far from being stalled, they are still at a very pivotal point but we have to reach a positive outcome that suits both sides.

“We are continuing to negotiate a deal that covers the width of the local enterprise partnership and so far all of the political parties in that area have been very supportive.”

Members of the local Labour party have expressed concerns that if Milton Keynes can’t build the housing it needs then the trend of upward rents and lack of affordable housing will continue, undermining the local economy.

Labour leader, Councillor Pete Marland, said: “With other funding cuts hanging over the council, we are looking at a £70m shortfall in the funding we require to deliver the roads, bridges and schools we need, not just for growth but to service what we have.

Andrew Pakes, Labour candidate for Milton Keynes South, said: “We have a resilient local economy thanks to an amazingly innovative business sector, and we should see the benefits of that locally.

The “ask” from the Government to give MK the powers to grow is fair. The delay makes a mockery of our willingness to deliver housing numbers. There has already been too much delay from Ministers as other places steam ahead with their bids. The Government needs to get a move on and agree a deal with Milton Keynes that will allow us to boost the growth we need.”