PLEA TO POLITICAL LEADERS – UNITE OUR CAPITAL CITY
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities
Leading organisations from Edinburgh have combined to create a blueprint to help accelerate the capital’s economic recovery from the pandemic – and they are urging political leaders in the city and the Scottish Government to work with them in genuine partnership.
The Edinburgh Business Resilience Group is made up of more than 60 organisations in the commercial, social and private sectors brought together by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and tasked with finding ways in which the wider business community could work with policy-makers to help shape and support the recovery efforts.
Leading companies large and small, universities, colleges, Edinburgh’s Festivals and others have come together to form the group which believes the city needs to unite behind a shared vision and plan. The group today publish their “Prospectus for Growth” which delivers practical suggestions to place the economy at the heart of the city’s recovery from the covid 19 pandemic.
Chairman Ian Marchant of Dunelm Energy said: Edinburgh’s efforts at recovery cannot become a Tale of Two Cities – our own divided narrative between long-term political aspirations and the present day needs of businesses and organisations who will be expected to create the jobs and opportunities of the future. Do we work together, or do we labour apart? Do we simply talk, or are we prepared to listen? Is it to be the best of times, or the worst of times? Do we want the spring of hope, or the winter of despair?”
The former Chief Executive at utility giant Scottish and Southern Energy, added: “As we continue to emerge from the pandemic through the success of the vaccination rollout the economy must now be the top priority for our policy leaders. We need businesses to succeed and grow if we are to create jobs and opportunities for our citizens, if we are to encourage the move to net zero carbon, and if we are to tackle poverty through greater social inclusion.
“To achieve these aims we need businesses that are successful. To have successful businesses we need policies that encourage growth. We believe that by making the views of business known and by harnessing the expertise and energy our businesses have to offer, we can work with local and national government to deliver a better, stronger recovery. But we need them to listen and we need them to engage.”
Liz McAreavey, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce is well-placed to convene this group. We were delighted at the stellar quality of those who took part in all of the meetings and conversations that fed into the production of the Prospectus for Growth.
“We are now seeking engagement with the Scottish Government, the UK Government and City of Edinburgh Council to see how we might work most productively together to deliver what is best for the city.”
The ideas being put forward by the Group are under three themes of Recovery, Growth, and Edinburgh as a Global City and include:
- Accelerate return-to-work plans and revise social distancing when safe
- Support for businesses in tackling debt levels that will stifle investment
- Adopt a more enlightened, transactional approach to business taxation
- Increase investment in skills and R&D
- Create “Edinburgh Means Business” – joint venture involving key stakeholders to help promote and sell the city and, vitally, help to develop and land inward investment
- Appoint a “Business Champion” for the City to work with the city council and Government
- Create more diverse business ownership through shared strategy to develop entrepreneurial talent from under-represented groups and areas
- Simplify and streamline robust planning and licensing processes to encourage more people to do business in Edinburgh
- Encourage businesses to support our festivals and culture
- Do more to promote the city’s ambition to be Data Capital of Europe and enhance our reputation for innovation
- Better recognise the contribution of our tourism, culture, festivals and events sector to the city’s economy, quality of life and global reputation
- Develop a comprehensive aviation strategy – Edinburgh needs to remain a global city, and our airport remains a pillar of international trade and the gateway to the rest of Scotland
- Develop a world-class digital infrastructure
- Create a shared and coherent branding strategy for the city
The Prospectus document is being shared with political leaders and advisers at the Scottish and UK Governments and within the City of Edinburgh Council. Meetings between political leaders and those who led the Business Resilience Group’s work are now being sought.
Read the full prospectus here.