At a meeting of the Scottish City Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Group in Stirling yesterday, the city BID leads were unified in their call for government to quickly consider moving to a safe and full return of staff to the office, where appropriate.
Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired said “Working from home for nigh on two years has obviously had a dramatic impact on our weekly footfall numbers across our Scottish city centres. This was essentially our captive audience that did so much to support our retail and hospitality sectors on our high streets.
“Whilst the nod to a hybrid model is a step in the right direction, we strongly feel that it should now be for business and other sector leaders to have the discretion to work with their staff on how to implement a safe and full return where appropriate.”
Danielle McRorie-Smith, Project Director, Go Forth Stirling, said “Businesses across the county have invested heavily on making workplaces safe for staff and visitors and government should take confidence from this and work with them in providing guidance to make this happen in early course.
“Make no mistake, our city centres were facing considerable challenge before COVID-19, with this pandemic only accelerating matters. “
Roddy Smith, Chief Executive at Essential Edinburgh, said “My colleagues have already given a strong rationale for a much fuller return of staff to offices. Further to this, we need government to be far more explicit around other supporting measures it has in mind for the longer-term recovery of our city centres. Much of the language at present in focused on the ‘towns agenda’, we need more to be said and done for our cities now”
On the back of this Adrian Watson gave interviews to both BBC Radio and Northsound and the call for a return to the office from Scottish BIDS was also covered by Forth and Moray Radio.
Many issues critical to the recovery of our city centers were on the agenda including the thorny issues of rates and a strong consensus that that we should lobby hard for business rate relief to be extended, and that we push for a wholesale review in early course.
Next week Scottish City BIDs will meet as a group with Tom Arthur, MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth to discuss the issues facing businesses in our city centres.
Scottish City BIDs group was established to progress the strategic objectives of the BIDs in the seven Scottish Cities.