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New national vision for town centres unveiled

Improvement districts will deliver national impact through local focus

A new national hub designed to support “Improvement Districts” in Scotland was launched today (Thursday) in Edinburgh by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell. This dedicated service, to be delivered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, aims to encourage more collaboration, partnership and innovation.

The Cabinet Secretary marked the launch in a speech to Improvement District managers and directors and other senior public and private sector stakeholders at an event hosted by Essential Edinburgh member, Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Improvement Districts, the next generation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), seek to provide a vehicle for local businesses to work together with other public and private sector partners to improve local economies and, by extension, local communities in a variety of contexts. At their heart, they are the realisation of a meaningful corporate – community – public partnership working collaboratively to deliver better local economic and social outcomes.

By pooling and sharing resources, local businesses, working with other private, public and third sector partners, take a leading role in improving local economic conditions by delivering an agreed package of investment and initiatives over and beyond that delivered by local and national government.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “I’m delighted that  Scotland’s Towns Partnership will be providing a new national hub to support Business Improvement Districts across the country. This has the potential to develop more flexible, expansive, and innovative models of business partnerships based on the BID model.  And it will build greater capacity through stronger public, private and community partnerships which are strategic and sustainable, enabling BIDs to make an even bigger contribution to the vibrancy, vitality and viability of our town centres, neighbourhoods, and communities.”

Also speaking at the event, Programme Director and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Phil Prentice said:

“Today is much more than just launching a new organisation – it is about setting out a new vision for Improvement Districts in Scotland that has been developed in collaboration with them. At their heart, Improvement Districts are the realisation of a meaningful corporate-community-public partnership.”

“Local businesses and people are best placed to understand the needs of their local economy. Improvement Districts provide the forum to develop and deliver an agreed action plan that addresses those needs by bringing people and business together.”

“By working collaboratively to deliver better local economic and social outcomes through a focus on towns and cities across the country, Improvement Districts are an important driver for the wider Scottish economy. Improvement Districts have a local focus but deliver national impact.”