The success that Edinburgh has achieved over a range of economic, social and cultural measures has quite rightly earned it the accolade of the “Engine of the Scottish Economy”.
As a capital city, Edinburgh has a unique position and one that is recognised by the private and educational sectors as evidenced by the continued high levels of inward investment delivered and consequently jobs created.
The Scottish Government has also contributed to this investment, most recently by participating in the Growth Accelerator Model which has helped deliver the new Edinburgh St James project, the single biggest investment of its type in Scotland.
However, now is the time to do more. Too often Scotland has failed to invest in success following the old adage that “they are doing fine by themselves – they don’t need help”. This has resulted in many missed opportunities over the decades – opportunities often picked up by others.
Investing at the time of success can, in the longer term, deliver better and more sustainable economic growth. As the UK autumn statement and the Scottish Government budget draw closer now is the time for both governments to commit to greater investment through the City Region Deal. The opportunity to deliver a £2 billion injection into the economies of Edinburgh and the surrounding local authorities cannot be missed or delayed. This investment combined with the Edinburgh 2050 vision project would mark the largest infrastructure investment ever seen in Scotland and has the potential to transform our future.
Combine this with the delivery of the commitment to empower communities and we have the potential to transform the Scottish economy. The announcement last week of a review of the roles and responsibilities of local authorities is a clear sign of the possible devolution of powers to local government which in turn can be devolved to communities, delivering true local accountability.
Edinburgh has shown that it is capable of effective delivery in terms of economic growth and with greater control of areas currently managed by national bodies it could do so much more. The message is clear to both Westminster and Holyrood: invest now while we are being successful, invest big enough to make a difference, invest smart to achieve a clear future goal, be bold and trust in the devolution of power.
Councillor Frank Ross is SNP group leader and deputy leader at Edinburgh City Council