INVERCLYDE’S multi-million pound ‘city deal’ improvements look likely to start ahead of schedule.

Three developments will take place here as part of the £1 billion agreement signed last August with the UK and Scottish governments and eight local authorities.

Now improvements to the A78 at Inverkip could start by spring next year instead of around six months later, says council leader Stephen McCabe.

He was speaking after attending a ‘cabinet’ meeting of local authorities involved in the city deal.

The councillor said: “We are still developing projects, but things are progressing and starting to fall into place.” Upgrading worth £3.8 million is earmarked for Inverkip to build a roundabout and also to improve the junction into the power station site where redevelopment will take place.

Scottish Power plan to create an ‘urban village’ with around 640 homes and a mix of retail premises, offices and business facilities, including a hotel, pub and restaurant.

Cllr McCabe said: “The building blocks are still being put in place for the city deal. The Inverkip roundabout, for example, wouldn’t happen without the deal, for Transport Scotland have refused to pay for one there.” The other two deal developments for Inverclyde are at Greenock Ocean Terminal, to be expanded at a cost of £14.2m, and a further £9.4m is to be invested in establishing a ‘renewables hub’ at Inchgreen drydock The UK and Scottish governments will each give the Glasgow ‘city region’ £500m in grant funding, and the local authorities will pump in a further £130m.

Cllr McCabe said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one not to be missed by the west of Scotland councils. Investment in the wider city region provides real benefits to the Inverclyde economy through improved infrastructure and job prospects.” The Ocean Terminal expansion is due to begin in 2017 while investment at Inchgreen is scheduled to start in 2021. Other councils taking part in the ambitious initiative are Glasgow City, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire.