Flawed industrial strategy fails to take sufficient account of Brexit: Council

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Derry City and Strabane District Council has described a proposed industrial strategy for the North as “flawed” due to the scant reference made to Brexit in the document.

‘Economy 2030’ was signed off by the erstwhile Economy Minister Simon Hamilton in January.

It was then sent out for consultation to local authorities.

Derry City and Strabane District Council, in its response, which was approved by its Business and Culture Committee last week, said the strategy doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to the impact the United Kingdom’s leaving the European Union will have on the North West economy.

It said: “The impact of Brexit will be felt more acutely in this region than in any other part of NI.

“Forty per cent of all cross border movements in relation to employment on the Island of Ireland are here in the North West.

“Therefore, freedom of movement, goods, services and capital is at the heart of the cross border economy.

“An Industrial Strategy that sets out a vision to be inclusive and does not reflect the impact of Brexit and any restrictions on trade and movement is flawed.”

The strategy references Brexit just once, in Chapter Five, which outlines ‘Our Pillars for Growth’.

“Exporting remains central to our Industrial Strategy and, with a changing economic landscape on the horizon as a result of exiting the European Union, it is vital that we are responsive and adaptable in the ways we seek to achieve our objectives on trading globally,” the strategy states.

And that’s it.

Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Cooper said it’s incredible Brexit doesn’t feature more prominently.

“The lack of reference to Brexit is lamentable,” he said.

He claimed the failure to take account of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU was “scandalous given the implications”.

Elsewhere, in its response to Economy 2030 the council said there needs to be a sub-regional approach to job creation and investment, that Magee needs to be expanded, and that the infrastructure connecting the city to the rest of the island and beyond, needs to be improved.

Colr. Cooper said a sub-regional approach to the further development of the economy is absolutely essential.

He also argued that “some sort of special status” is needed to mitigate the worst effects of Brexit and that the “cross-border element of the strategy needs to be beefed up significantly”.