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Aberdeen Inspired chief speaks at Scottish Parliament

The chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired championed the multi-million pound benefit of improvement districts as he spoke in the Scottish Parliament.

Adrian Watson was among the speakers at a special Holyrood reception highlighting the impact of community-led action on building stronger, more sustainable and successful places.

A number of MSPs – including Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur – were among the guests at the Celebration of Improvement Districts.

Speaking on behalf of Business Improvement Districts across Scotland, Mr Watson highlighted some of the successes of Aberdeen Inspired in boosting business, including by promoting the city locally, nationally and internationally.

He said: “We are ahead of the game in this country in how we harness the power of improvement districts. Our work in Aberdeen means that for every £1 paid in levy, we put £2 back into the city centre.That’s just one example.

“There’s no room for complacency, however. There’s much still to do – and improvement districts are keen to do it.”

Using the successes of Aberdeen to inspire, Mr Watson highlighted the global reach of the city’s Nuart festival and the benefits that will come from hosting this year’s European Pipe Band Championships and the 2025 Tall Ships Race.

He also flagged the investment secured through the Aberdeen Gift Card – spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired – including its work alongside Aberdeen City Council to use it as a means by which to deliver Scottish Government-backed support to people and businesses through the cost of living crisis and Covid-19 recovery.

“This is an excellent initiative, which has distributed £1.9m of funding to 14,000 households. Not only has this helped the most vulnerable households, but it has locked spending into the city, supporting bricks and mortar businesses at a time when it’s never been needed more,” Mr Watson added.

The reception was organised by Scotland’s Improvement Districts (SIDs) – part of the Scotland’s Towns Partnership family – and supported by the Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Towns.

SIDs is the organisation charged with spearheading the growth of improvement districts nationally, providing a hub for expert support and knowledge-sharing to increase their impact and influence.

Read more about the Scottish Parliament reception