New Mayor in top level NIO talks

COVID-19 recovery and the proposed City Deal were top of the agenda as the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey met with the Northern Ireland Office Minister of State Robin Walker MP yesterday (Monday).

Jim Montgomery was joined by Council Chief Executive Jacqui Dixon, and the meeting discussed issues including long-term economic development and supporting businesses and communities in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“Today was an opportunity to highlight the vital role local government played in helping communities and vulnerable people cope during that initial seismic impact of lockdown,” said the Mayor.

“We also discussed the importance of national, regional and local government working in partnership and coordinating efforts to make sure support reaches right to the heart of our communities.

“We outlined to Minister Walker MP how we are focussed on restoring services, but also helping those sectors most deeply impacted by the economic shockwave, retail and tourism, with significant support programmes being finalised through our forums.

“Aside from COVID-19, we also had a valuable engagement discussing the Belfast Region City Deal and our ambition to see long-term strategic investments delivered to build economic prosperity for residents and businesses across our Borough and indeed beyond.”

Mr Walker agreed that the talks were useful.

“I was delighted to meet with the Mayor and Chief Executive of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to discuss the Belfast Region City Deal and the economic recovery from Covid-19,” he said.

“The UK Government has committed a total of £617m to the City and Growth Deal programme in Northern Ireland, together with the complementary Inclusive Future Fund. These commitments have been match funded by the Executive. The Belfast Region City Deal encompasses several council areas including Antrim and Newtownabbey and Mid and East Antrim.

“I was also impressed to hear about the council and community efforts to tackle Covid-19. HM Treasury’s Plan for Jobs recently confirmed an additional £300 million of Covid-19 funding for the NI Executive through the Barnett formula, followed by a further £600m as part of the Treasury package for devolved administrations. In total, the UK Government has committed £2.2bn to help the NI Executive support individuals, businesses and public services through Covid-19.”

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