The £700 million Tay Cities Deal was close to being scrapped multiple times in recent years, it has been revealed.
As it was announced the agreement is expected to be signed off by the end of this year, one of the project’s signatories revealed “tap dancing” and political infighting almost saw the deal collapse.
The deal will see a cash injection for 29 projects in Tayside and north east Fife, creating up to 6,000 jobs.
Now two years after the initial Heads of Terms agreement was signed, outlining the list of planned projects, Ellis Watson, executive chairman of DC Thomson Media and chairman of the cities deal regional business group, likened bickering between both the Scottish and UK Governments and local politicians to sitcom Yes Minister.
He said: “Knowing how close it has come – even in the 59th minute of the 11th hour – to actually falling out of bed, either partly or completely…let’s say I started this process with a lot more hair and fingernails than I have now.
“It has never come out quite how close this has come to the wheels falling off.”
Mr Watson said it was ultimately to the credit of those involved that differences were overcome in a bid to achieve the greater economic good and get the Tay Cities deal signed by the partners involved.
“To see what could have, and has nearly gone wrong, it has been really impressive to see politicians finally doing the right thing,” he added.
Mr Watson, who will sign the deal along with the leaders of Dundee, Angus, Fife, and Perth & Kinross councils, said he was glad to see everyone involved working to get the best-case scenario for the region, after a rocky start and the added challenge of coronavirus.
One of the biggest challenges was convincing the UK Government to provide its share of the money over 10 years, instead of the proposed 15 years.
Talks became even more fraught when local signatories considered refusing to sign the deal unless it was reduced to 10 years, due to fears inflation would price out some of the planned projects.