We're very excited to be travelling to Edinburgh this week for our annual conference 2018. But before we get there, we wanted to pose a few questions to our host, Frank Ross, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.
The EUROCITIES conference 2018 will host a group of ‘young ambassadors’ from more than 50 European cities, coming on your invitation. Why is working with young people important to you?
LP: "The city has been doing a lot of work with young people recently. Having an understanding of the type of place they want Edinburgh to be in the future is important as they will be the ones living here! I’m always really impressed with the ideas they come up with. During the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision project, where we are asking residents to tell us the type of city they want Edinburgh to be by 2050, the key themes of fair, inspiring, thriving and connected are the ones that are coming to the fore, and a lot of this is on the back of ideas from our young people. I’m really looking forward to hearing from all the Young Ambassadors attending the Conference."
Another aspect of the conference will be a declaration on citizens’ engagement. How does Edinburgh city council reach out to local residents and include their opinion in decision making?
LP: "Consultation and engagement are at the heart of everything we do in Edinburgh. We are working very hard to hear back from residents and businesses in the city on issues that affect them. We want to hear from as many people as possible on all aspects of Edinburgh life. Over 10,000 people have already fed back to us on our 2050 City Vision project, while over 6,000 have given their views on our potential extension to our Tram network. However, it is also at a local level that we are engaging with citizens and we have four locality improvement plans in place, all based on feedback from people we have traditionally found hard to hear from. These plans look to deal with real issues that people are experiencing in their own communities. Understanding the concerns of our residents is fundamental to what we do."
What is the benefit to you, as a local politician, of networks like EUROCITIES that encourage cooperation between cities and across national borders?
LP: "EUROCITIES offers us a platform to learn how cities across Europe are dealing with common challenges. It allows easy access to best practice in all aspects of city development – at both practitioner and political levels. Although cities across Europe all operate within very different fiscal and governance arrangements, there is much to share. The theme of this year’s conference – Creative Competitive Cities – will look at how cities are maximising the opportunities of the cultural and creative sectors for inclusion and empowerment, competitive advantage and excellent place-making. And we will do this in tandem with a very strong youth voice from 50 cities."
The EUROCITIES conference focuses on a different theme each year. More information on EUROCITIES 2018 is available here: http://eurocities2018.eu/
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The hashtag for this event is #EUROCITIES2018