Sustainable Cities & Connected City Regions
Scotland's cities are the engines of the Scottish economy. Our long-term economic prospects and our ability to tackle climate change are almost wholly dependent on the success of our cities and city regions.
Scotland's four major cities account for 47% of Gross Value Added, 40% of jobs and are responsible for high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
Until recently the CSPP were one of the few bodies arguing for a stronger policy focus on our cities and city regions. Regular campaigning with international observations from Chuck Dalldorf at our annual city region conferences has, however, borne fruit as Scotland's Seven Cities are getting organised.
The all important first step saw the Cities sign up to a Shared Vision for Success in May 2011. The vision focuses on:
- Building infrastructure that delivers economic impact
- Developing innovative finance & investment models
- Developing cities as the creative centres of productivity, knowledge and innovation
- Cities being at the heart of Scotland's sustainability
- Recognising the cities' economic contribution to Scotland
- Creating international trade and tourism strategies which recognise the cities as gateways to Scotland
After a hugely successful election campaign, the majority SNP Government have wasted no time in promoting the Cities agenda by appointing Deputy First Minister & Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon as Cities Minister; releasing a refreshed economic strategy that places a strong focus on Cities; and publishing the first Cities Strategy in six years in December 2011.
The aim of the Government’s strategy is clear:
“To support growth and effective ‘place making’, supporting Scottish cities to play to their strengths, capitalise on investment opportunities and ensure that Scotland delivers on its national economic targets”.
We welcome the renewed policy focus on Cities and in particular the £7m funding made available for projects in the Strategy. It is our hope that over the coming years we can work alongside the Cities and other major stakeholders to ensure that a long-term programme for success is enacted and delivered upon. After all, the long-term vibrancy and viability of our cities is a task for all of us.
It is our role to be the Cities agenda critical friend. This will see us organise a range of exciting opportunities for the Leaderships, both elected and officer, of our Cities and City Regions to discuss, debate and develop policy ideas from home and abroad, starting with our Six Cities Policy Challenge Dialogue Dinner Series.
The Cities Strategy was a step in the right direction even if it lacks detail in a number of critical areas (e.g. how the Cities will lower emissions). Yet, this is not enough. We need action. We need nothing less than a fundamental reconfiguration of local government. In short, we need directly elected leaders for our core cities. As the tram fiasco in Edinburgh painfully illustrates, there is a leadership vacuum.
Our case is supported by the respected Centre for Cities.
"Mayors create an opportunity not only for these cities to transform their local governance structures, but also to make a real difference to their economic growth".
An elected provost would attract higher turnouts in local elections, more diverse candidates and a higher quality of representative if they had more powers. In short, they would make local government local again, boost economic growth and renew our democracy.
If Scotland is to achieve its potential and become a low carbon economy it needs the governance structures to deliver. It is that simple.