As we approach the Referendum it is essential that Scotland continues to focus on The Importance of Place at the local, as well as the national level. The role of our Cities and their supporting-surrounding regions to the Scottish Government’s central policy purpose of working towards sustainable economic growth will remain critical, regardless of the result of the referendum. The economic, cultural and social vitality of Scotland’s Towns will not be diminished by the outcome of the constitutional debate and the quality of our Public Services will always be a key component of the character of the country, regardless of a Yes or No vote.
Although the opposing sides in the #indyref debate will argue for different solutions to the problems which Scotland faces, the issues remain the same, at least until the referendum, most likely through the UK election the following year and into the Scottish election in 2016. It is therefore essential that we focus on these challenges and develop solutions for the short term, as the constitutional debate rages overhead.
The challenges are great, and they demand new thinking now. We need to change the way we think, we need to adapt our attitude to this new reality and we need to do things differently.
It is not just the £39bn funding gap that makes change unavoidable, but as the Christie Commission illustrated many of the interventions, the product of a mind-set crafted during a decade or more of public expenditure growth, have failed to make an impact on income inequalities, life expectancy and educational attainment, to say nothing of the lack of progress on creating a more dynamic, entrepreneurial culture.
On these big public policy issues, devolution has failed.
Nothing short of wholesale reform is now required. With your help and assistance we will aim to articulate a new political narrative that clearly outlines how our public services should be reshaped; how our towns and town centres should be regenerated; and how our cities and city regions can become sustainable, connected and even more successful.