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Chaired by Allan Henderson (chairman of Aberdeen Inspired) and co-chaired by Adrian Watson (chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired), the group was established to progress the strategic objectives of the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in the seven Scottish Cities.

In welcoming Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary to the meeting in Edinburgh, Allan Henderson thanked her for her endorsement of the group and looked forward to fruitful further discussions in which the group could work with Government and a wide range of other partners.

The group discussed matters including the detrimental effect the current structure of business rates was having on city businesses the length and breadth of the country; the need to consider the macro-concern that on-line businesses are equitably taxed, the potential of the ‘Tourism levy’ for Scottish cities and how this may be initiated locally.

Funding opportunities for the BIDs and partners and opportunities to more effectively influence at the national level were also discussed, along with the very real challenge of street begging and homelessness and the need for a multi-faceted approach in dealing with such a sensitive issue.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired and co-chair of the Scottish City BIDs Group, said: “We are grateful to the Cabinet Secretary for her input into the newly formed Scottish City BIDs Group. In many ways Scotland is ahead in the place making agenda, but it was felt this position could be re-enforced with the city BIDs coming together to collectively look to influence policy makers at a local/national level.

Along with this there is the aim of sharing good practice, of which there is plenty, looking at the economy of scale in procuring goods and services and generally furthering the Scottish urban BID agenda.”

Roddy Smith, CEO, Essential Edinburgh added: “It was a pleasure to host the Scottish City BIDs Group meeting with the Cabinet Secretary. It is so important that the City BIDs have this voice and when you consider the added value that my organisation, Aberdeen Inspired and the other larger BIDs have brought to our Scottish cities, this seems the logical step for us to collectively look at the strategic issues affecting our cities and look to make progress on them.”