Edinburgh’s future to be examined in series of workshops

Tourists enjoy the view from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, which will be closed to the public at New Year. Pic: Toby Williams
Tourists enjoy the view from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, which will be closed to the public at New Year. Pic: Toby Williams
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EDINBURGH’S role as an international city, the way it is run and the balance between tourism and community will be on the agenda at a series of high-powered workshops on the Capital’s future.

The Edinburgh Dialogues, which will be hosted at Edinburgh University’s business school starting next week, will see keynote speakers addressing some of the major challenges facing the city.

Former city council leader Andrew Burns, who is helping to organise the events, said: “The idea is to generate wider debate on what are significant issues for the Capital over the next few years.”

The first of the dialogues, on Monday, will focus on Edinburgh as an international city, future population, education, connectivity, relations with Europe and the city’s profile and reputation. The speakers will be former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson from public affairs company Charlotte Street Partners, and Liz McAreavey, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

The event will be chaired by Professor Chris Carter of the University of Edinburgh Business School.

Mr Burns said the issue was the Capital’s position after Brexit. “We have to be ready for Edinburgh coping with that,” he said. “Andrew Wilson and Liz McAreavey will be addressing Edinburgh’s international standing and how it can retain its position going into the future.”

The second dialogue, to be held on Monday, February 11, will look at the controversy around the growth in tourism, including the boom in AirBnB, and the tensions it creates with local residents.

The session has been entitled A City with a Heart: the balance between tourism, business, short-term residents, and maintaining a vibrant and sustainable local community. And the speakers will be Lothian Green MSP Andy Wightman, who has led calls for tougher controls, and Paula Ward, regional director of Visit Scotland.

Mr Burns, who will chair the event, said: “There has been a massive growth in tourism over the last 20 years which brings huge economic benefits but challenges as well.

“Everyone wants us to retain the living population in the city centre which Edinburgh has, unlike other cities. The question is how we balance out these two things.”

And the third dialogue, on Monday, March 11, is about city governance and policy delivery, which will include a look at elected leaders, regional government and participation.

Organisers hope Scottish Government local government minister Kevin Stewart will be one of the speakers, alongside Alison Evison, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Former Labour MP and ex-council leader Mark Lazarowicz will be in the chair for the examination of how councils can operate and deliver services in the years ahead.

All the workshops are free to attend and will be held at the business school at 29 Buccleuch Place, with coffee at 6pm and starting at 6.30pm.

Register at: https://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/event/the-edinburgh-dialogues