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Parliamentary celebration of Scotland’s Improvement Districts

The work of Scotland’s Improvement Districts was celebrated at a special event in the Scottish Parliament.

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur was among those who praised the impact of groups across the country in improving local economies and making their areas better places to live and work.

The Celebration of Improvement Districts, held on Tuesday (February 28), was the first time that Scotland’s Improvement Districts (SIDs) has staged an event at Holyrood since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

SIDs – part of the Scotland’s Towns Partnership family – 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.

Mr Arthur said: “Supporting the sustainable growth of businesses and communities is a key aim of this Scottish Government. It is good to see Improvement Districts recognised as we continue our drive to create a fairer, greener and more prosperous economy for Scotland.

“Encouraging enterprise can help us deliver ambitions set out in the Town Centre Action Plan and the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. We all have a role to play in ensuring our towns enable more people to benefit directly from the wealth generated by local communities.”

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur addressing guests at the Scottish Parliament reception

Siobhian Brown, MSP for Ayr and Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Towns, also spoke at the celebration. She said:

“It was a complete pleasure to host the “Parliamentary celebration of Scotland’s Improvement Districts” reception  on Tuesday evening at parliament. It was wonderful to hear and learn  of all the inspirational work going on  through the Business Improvement Districts in different parts of Scotland. The breadth of talent, diversity and strength in the different projects highlights the flexibility of the Bid model. Local businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and where they can work as a collective the results can be very impressive and positive to our towns.”

Siobhian Brown MSP speaking to one of the guests at the reception

Improvement districts of all kinds – Business, Community and sector-specific – joined other community organisations from across the country attended the reception, held in The Holyrood Room at the Parliament.

Other speakers included Councillor Gail Macgregor, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) spokesperson for the environment and economy and Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired Business Improvement District (BID), along with Scotland’s Towns Partnership Chairman Professor Leigh Sparks.

Phil Prentice, SIDs’ national programme director, said: “It was fantastic to have our improvement districts back in the Scottish Parliament, celebrating the terrific difference they make in their communities.

“This was a chance to shine the spotlight on work which is driving innovation and collaboration – encouraging ambition, investment, boosting businesses and making areas more attractive.

“Scotland is home to the world’s most expansive programme of improvement districts – and there’s huge potential in developing it further. This is something we should be incredibly proud of as they each play an important part in supporting jobs and creating stronger, more sustainable local economies.

“Our thanks go to the Minister and the Scottish Government for their ongoing support for this hugely important work.”