City Deal would boost MK economy, say top politicians

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MILTON Keynes is one step closer to securing a deal that will allow the city to take charge of its own destiny.

Yesterday deputy prime minister Nick Clegg named MK as one of 20 frontrunners that could benefit from the Government’s City Deals programme.

The move has been welcomed by politicians throughout the city, who believe the scheme would bring more jobs and homes to MK.

City Deals accreditation means local authorities will be given more power in exchange for innovative approaches to boosting the local economy.

The idea is to encourage local authorities to make a credible case to be involved in a series of unique deals which will help deliver new homes, create jobs, improve skills, and improve infrastructure.

The long term deal will see significant growth in housing to attract and find homes for skilled workers. In the meantime the aim is to give private sector developers confidence that they can create jobs in construction and industry supply chains.

Leader of Milton Keynes Council, Councillor Andrew Geary said: “This is fantastic news – but I believe it’s what Milton Keynes deserves. Now we have to get down to the real ‘nitty gritty’ and drill down into how we make the ‘Milton Keynes Deal’ work.

“Milton Keynes and a significant number of authorities within the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership area have worked hard to make this happen, and the opportunity for us to work together with our neighbours with whom we share not just a geographic boundary but also a functional economic synergy for the greater good of all of us is indeed an opportunity that must be grasped and embraced.

“Our deal proposal is based on delivering the new homes and associated jobs outlined in our Core Strategies and Development Plans.

“Any deal should recognise that making Milton Keynes even more attractive as a business location must come with additional benefits. In particular, we want to be able to retain locally more of the financial benefit from building homes and creating more jobs so we can ensure Milton Keynes remains a high quality place for both residents and investors. We will negotiate hard with government as we will not want to strike a deal unless it delivers what we believe is best for Milton Keynes.”

Milton Keynes is already on track to take more control of its local growth, after the council acquired land assets from the Homes and Communities Agency. It also took control of the Milton Keynes Tariff, a requirement of developers to pay a sum of money each time they build, which goes towards identified strategic infrastructure improvements.

MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart, said: “This is really good news for the city and further confirms Milton Keynes as a major economic player in the region. I am looking forward to our success in this initiative.”

And his Milton Keynes North counterpart, Mark Lancaster added: “With an already thriving and successful local economy, the news that Milton Keynes has got through to the next round of the City Deal is fantastic. I am hopeful that we will be triumphant in the next round and that the initiative will further help boost our economy.”

Labour Parliamentary spokesman for Milton Keynes South, Andrew Pakes also welcomed the news.

He said: “This is welcome news that Milton Keynes has got through to the next stage of the city deal initiative. There is a cross-party consensus that devolving more powers will be good for us and the project builds on the city region partnerships that the last government initiated. There are tough negotiations ahead but this is a positive step forward.”