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COSLA TO ESTABLISH CITIES TASK GROUP

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A new cities task group and its remit will be established by COSLA's strategy forum when it meets on Friday. ...
A new cities task group and its remit will be established by COSLA's strategy forum when it meets on Friday.

The principle of the task group was agreed at the last convention meeting in June and on Friday councillors will be examining the detailed remit of the group and how it should proceed.

The report to the forum envisages a two-part study - the first an analysis of the importance of the four cities to Scotland's well-being and the second looking at how best to secure effective relationships between the cities and their neighbouring councils.

The report, by COSLA chief executive Douglas Sinclair, asserts that successful cities are needed for a successful Scotland and that cities and their conurbations are inextricably linked.

'Effective relationships between cities and their neighbouring councils in planning and delivering strategic local government services, such as public transportation and economic development, are

critical,' says the report, 'not only from the point of view of the interests of the citizens in the area but also for the well-being of local government in the context of a Scottish parliament.

'If local government creates vacuums in terms of service planning or delivery through ineffective joint arrangements, then it will run the danger of that vacuum being filled by the parliament.'

An officer task group would undertake the first stage analysis looking at not only the economic importance of the cities but also the civic leadership role which mirrors the community planning role sought by COSLA for all councils.

The second stage - securing effective relationships between the cities and their neighbouring councils - would be carried out by a 16-strong

group comprising representatives of the cities and the councils around them.

This group would explore how the inter-relationship between the cities and neighbouring councils can be strengthened to their mutual and common benefit.

-- The report on the Cities Task Group follows

CITIES TASK GROUP

1. Summary/Purpose of Report

To consider the remit of the proposed Cities Task Group.

2. Recommendation

The Forum is recommended:

(1) To agree the remit of the Cities Task Group encompasses both:

(a) an analysis of the importance of the cities for the well-being of Scotland; and

(b) how best to secure an effective relationship between cities and their neighbouring councils.

(2) That, initially, an officer Task Group, commissioned by COSLA, be established to report as outlined below by March 1998.

(3) That a network be established to raise awareness of the importance of the cities and the need for co-ordinated action by Government and Parliament to address the challenges faced by cities and to explore the relationship between cities and their neighbouring councils.

(4) That the second part of the remit would be delivered by a Network comprising the cities and some representation of councils within the neighbouring councils of each city. This might be on the following basis:

Aberdeen + 1 neighbouring council

Dundee + 1 neighbouring council

Edinburgh + 2 neighbouring councils

Glasgow + 4 neighbouring councils.

3. Introduction and Report

3.1 The Convention, at its last meeting, agreed in principle to the establishment of a Cities Task Group, subject to consideration of its remit by the President's Panel and a report to the next meeting of the Strategy Forum.

3.2 In considering the remit of a Task Group for the cities it is important to make two points. Firstly, a successful Scotland requires successful cities and second, cities and their conurbations are inextricably linked. Wheatley made the point that within each city/conurbation area there are many common interests and self-containment of services in that people go about within a discreet area for employment, shopping, recreation and leisure and that they are not inclined to move outwith that area. Effective relationships between cities and their neighbouring councils in planning and delivering strategic local government services, such as public transportation and economic development are critical, not only from the point of view of the interests of the citizens within the area but also for the well-being of local government in the context of a Scottish Parliament. If local government creates vacuums in terms of service planning or service delivery through ineffective joint arrangements then it will run the danger of the vacuum being filled by the Parliament.

3.3 I would suggest that the remit of the Task Group should encompass both (a) an analysis of the importance of the cities for the well-being of Scotland and (b) how best to secure an effective relationship between cities and their neighbouring councils. This remit might be best undertaken as a two stage process. Firstly, it is suggested that a report on the importance of the cities to the well-being of Scotland be undertaken through an officer Task Group, commissioned by COSLA, comprising the four Chief Executives of the city councils and four Chief Executives drawn from neighbouring councils. This report would embrace not only the economic importance of cities to the well-being of Scotland but the civic leadership role, which cities can and should play, which mirrors the community planning role which COSLA is seeking for all Scottish councils. The report would also analyse the problems which are common to cities and those which are different between them. The report would provide a factual analysis of joint working between cities and their neighbouring councils and would draw also on European experience of the role of cities to the well-being of their countries. The report would not focus on issues which are dealt with through other arrangements within COSLA, for example, grant distribution. It is suggested that this Task Group should be asked to complete its work by the end of March 1998. The report would be important in terms of influencing both the present Government and the Scottish Parliament, both in terms of raising awareness of the importance of cities and the need for co-ordinated action by Government, Parliament and local government and appointed public bodies, to address the challenges facing cities.

3.4 It is suggested that the second part of the remit and some representation of neighbouring councils would be delivered by a Network comprising the cities and some representation of councils within the neighbouring councils of each city. This might be on the following basis:

Aberdeen + 1 neighbouring council

Dundee + 1 neighbouring council

Edinburgh + 2 neighbouring councils

Glasgow + 4 neighbouring councils.

It is also suggested that the Network comprise 16 representatives, ie two representatives from each city and one representative from each neighbouring council, following the above formula. The Network would have the task - using the report as its backcloth - to explore how the inter-relationship between cities and their neighbouring councils can be strengthened to their mutual and common benefit.

4. Implications

There are no financial, personnel, equality, environmental or European implications at this present time.

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