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‘We will show the art of the possible in transforming Scotland’s towns’

The Chairman of Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) has highlighted the organisation’s key role in helping communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Leigh Sparks spoke of his pride in ongoing work to shape a stronger future as he welcomed guests to its Annual General Meeting and Towns Tea Party.

One the organisation’s role since the onset of Covid-19, he said: “STP has shown strong and determined leadership for towns throughout the crisis.

“I am sure this will continue throughout the recovery period and into the rebuild period.”

Highlighting successes of the past 12 months, the highly-regarded professor of retail studies and Deputy Principal of Stirling University, pointed to a number of key achievements by STP.

These included the ongoing development of the Scotland Loves Local campaign as a national recovery brand from Covid-19. Its success led to a £10m Programme For Government commitment from ministers.

Continued support for Scotland’s Improvement Districts was also recognised as a high point as they and their members play critical roles in local recovery from the pandemic.

Prof Sparks also pointed to the work done by STP to support the creation of the New Future for Scotland’s Towns Report and in its evolution into Scottish Government policy through publication of a response from Holyrood.

That document – known as TCAP2 – is currently the subject of a roadshow series being staged by STP and the Scottish Government. 

Looking to the future being carried out, STP Chief Officer Phil Prentice spoke of his optimism around the impact of the New Future for Scotland’s Towns report, through TCAP2.

He said: “We are showcasing the art of the possible by taking our TCAP2 roadshow around the country to demonstrate how important our towns are to communities, the economy and the environment.

“Towns need to be viewed as a critical asset in our national infrastructure.

“This is a time of opportunity if we work collaboratively to renew and rebuild a better Scotland for everybody.”

Among the other speakers at the Tea Party – held virtually as it has been since the start of the pandemic – was David Cowan, who heads the regeneration team at the Scottish Government.

Tuesday’s (June 8) event also doubled as the third event in the TCAP 2 roadshow, focussing on the East of Scotland.

As well as Prof Sparks providing an overview of the Town Centre Action Plan 2 and New Future for Scotland’s Towns report, the audience heard about the work of Scotland’s first Digital Improvement District.

There were presentations to from the Scot Tech Army on its Supporting Our Local Economy (SOLE) project in Dunbar, East Lothian, from Sustainable Dunbar’s Jo McNamara and Emma Bouglet, Manager of East Lothian Food and Drink, the first improvement district of its kind in the UK.

On Monday, the second TCAP 2 roadshow was held virtually, with a focus on North East Scotland.

It featured contributions from Sam Cassels, Place Principle Adviser at the Scottish Government; Dr Emilie Wadsworth, Operations Director at Green Action Trust; Scottish Futures Trust Associate Director Dairmaid Lawlor and Christine Webster, Aberdeenshire Council’s Regeneration and Town Centres Manager.

* Click here to watch the STP AGM and Towns Tea Party.

* You can catch up on the TCAP 2 roadshows here.