Towns and town centres are the beating hearts of Scotland and Scottish life.
Scotland's towns and town centres are a defining feature and key characteristic of the country. They provide cultural, social and economic benefits, thereby improving quality of life, whilst also meeting a number of key government priorities, at the national, regional and local levels. In a carbon challenged future they enhance accessibility and can demonstrate considerable environmental leadership - but only when people and place are properly connected.
Towns represent key political battlegrounds, but also constitute a shared policy space in which all our main parties find some level of interest.
Given that there is something for all political parties to purchase in our town centres it was hardly surprising that the creation of the Town Centre Regeneration Fund found unanimous support in the Scottish Parliament, or that its popularity resulted in the National Review of Town Centres.
The broad agreement of the importance of Scotland’s towns has also enabled the CSPP and others to create Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), a stronger collective voice making the continued case for these most important of local places to remain high on the political, and therefore policy agenda.
The Scotland’s Towns Policy Group works alongside the partnership developing policy ideas, such as the three key proposals made by the External Advisory Group, namely;
1. Town Centres First
2. The ‘Return of Resi’
3. Cultural, Economic and Social Mix
All three of these key recommendations in the National Review of Town Centres report arose from discussions at our policy group and are supported by a range of evidence and other work, such as our challenging paper on the Town Centre Regeneration Fund, “Once Is Not Enough”, presented to the Scottish Parliament in 2011.
This presentation preceded the creation of the Cross Party Group on Towns and Town Centres, driven by STP, which now acts as the Secretariat, bringing a wide range of expertise and experience into the heart of the political debate.
This policy programme will develop policy thinking, whilst also seeking to create a coherent voice for Scotland's towns and town centres through the work of the Scottish Towns Policy Group and the creation of the Scotland's Towns Partnership.
These initiatives provide a range of opportunities for those with a stake in our towns and town centres to engage directly with this policy debate and to participate actively in creating a successful future for Scotland's Towns.