Positioning Scotland’s seven cities as hi-tech economic hubs will deliver results for the whole of the country, the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Secretary Keith Brown has said.
Speaking at the Core Cities Summit in Glasgow this week, Mr Brown announced that £11.1m (€15m) has been set aside within the Scottish European Regional Development Fund Programme for 2014-2020 to make Scotland’s cities smarter, using new technologies to accelerate and transform the delivery of city services.
The Scottish Cities Alliance will be leading the work, developing a programme of projects across all of the cities to ensure they can compete internationally and boost economic growth.
Mr Brown said:
“Smart cities are the future and we want to make sure our cities are equipped to deliver for their citizens and for Scotland. This means being smart about how we use data and technology to improve services, promote innovation and empower people and communities.
“European cities such as Barcelona and Amsterdam are leading the way with their ‘smart agenda’ and I am determined that our cities develop the cutting-edge technological infrastructure needed to compete internationally.
“The fact that this money has been ring fenced specifically for cities, against many other competing priorities, recognises their importance to our economy.
“Cities and their regions account for 53 per cent of Scotland’s population and provide two thirds of our exports and 68.7 per cent of Scotland’s total GVA. They are powerhouses for our economy – if our cities thrive then all of Scotland prospers.
“Our cities do much individually, but there are areas where collaboration will deliver a greater success. The Scottish Cities Alliance, representing the seven cities, is working to find new forms of investment to bring jobs into Scotland. It recently launched a £10b investment prospectus to promote our cities and attract long-term investment.
“Today’s summit is also about the powers our cities have to make the right decisions for their areas. In fact Scotland’s cities are leading the UK on devolution – already possessing many of the powers their English counterparts are fighting for.
“Local authorities in Scotland already have an enshrined legal power to advance wellbeing – a wide-ranging discretionary power, set out in the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. I would like to see every local authority in Scotland using this in the way it was intended, to listen to their communities, understand their priorities and use their power effectively to promote wellbeing.
“Indeed, when launching our Programme for Government, the First Minister described how fostering a sense of participation is more than consulting – it is also about handing decision-making powers back to communities.
“Devolution is not just about devolving from Westminster to Holyrood – or from Holyrood to the City Chambers. Democracy is not about parliaments, councils or governments, it is first and foremost about people and communities.”