Scottish Government's City Centre Recovery Task Force is awash with vague ideas but little real help – John McLellan

As the dilapidated state of the city centre continues to cause concern, a new report from a Scottish Government “City Centre Recovery Task Force” might provide some answers.
Scotland's city centres need help not vague ideas (Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)Scotland's city centres need help not vague ideas (Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Scotland's city centres need help not vague ideas (Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Overseen by city council leaders to, according to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, “identify the actions we needed to take together to support city centre recovery”, the result is optimistically titled “At the Heart of Economic Transformation”.

Predictably, it is full of praise for the Scottish Government ─ an £80m Covid Economic Recovery Fund and £6m for a City Centre Recovery Fund ─ without any acknowledgement of the UK Government’s role in supplying the cash, and the only financial demand is for the UK Government to trouser up even more by cutting VAT on building refurbishment.

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But there is nothing about business rate reduction, nothing about transport policies which pose as big a threat to public transport and the supply of goods as they do to cars, and not a line about tackling the filth, litter, graffiti and anti-social behaviour which scars all of the city centres it aims to improve, and for which the authors all have a clear responsibility.

Instead, there is a wish-list of 44 vague ideas which read like the notes from away-day flip charts, dominated by power-grabbing proposals, like compulsory purchase orders and increasing revenue opportunities for councils as if they aren’t already stinging businesses and residents alike while the Scottish Government drains local authorities of resources.

Why the Conservative leader of Perth Council signed up to this stuff is anyone’s guess.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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