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Council Leader Aitken outlines plan for Connectivity Commission for city centre

Measures to transform Glasgow city centre are to be considered by a new, high-powered commission.

At the annual State Of The City Economy conference, City Council Leader Susan Aitken announced the establishment of the Connectivity Commission - an independent body with a remit to rethink the city centre as a destination for business, retail and leisure.

The group will be led by former Government transport advisor Professor David Begg and includes leaders and practitioners from the worlds of business, transport, academia and the Third Sector. 

It will be challenged to “generate bold, fresh ideas” to transform Scotland's biggest city, making it a more liveable and breathable place which is even more attractive to visitors, businesses and citizens.
    
Over the next year, the Commission will explore challenges and opportunities with the city centre's public realm, congestion and pollution levels and public transport usage.

The Commission includes Iain Docherty, Professor of Public Policy and Governance at Glasgow University; Anne Ledgerwood, general manager of the St Enoch Centre and Chair of the City Centre Retail Association; Scottish Council for Development and Industry chief Executive Mark Bevan, and representatives from Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Transform Scotland.

Councillor Aitken said: "The Glasgow Connectivity Commission has the crucial job of improving the city centre experience for all, which offers fantastic economic opportunity for the city.  Their remit is largely their own, but we anticipate transformative proposals on making the city centre more attractive for visitors, an improved experience for business, leisure and retail.

"These proposals can help us to further develop the local economy and ensure all of Glasgow's people can share in the prosperity created in the city centre. I am delighted the Commission will be led by Professor Begg, one of the UK's most prominent transport experts, and his appointment is a statement of our intent to cut pollution and congestion while delivering inclusive economic growth."

Professor Begg said: "One of the remits of the Commission will be to have a transport network which contributes both to a stronger economy, a healthier environment and social equity. These are the three key outcomes we will look to deliver.  To achieve that we need to get more people onto public transport, walking and cycling, we need more quality pedestrian space and public realm to improve the retail environment and city centre experience and cleaner vehicles. 

"We need to both arrest decline and improve Glasgow's offer.  The Greater Glasgow area has such a fantastic urban rail network but if you live in a community which is not on the network and don't have a car they are pretty marginalised. That must be addressed.  I look forward to working with partners in the Connectivity Commission to help Glasgow deliver on its ambitions."

Glasgow Chamber chief executive Stuart Patrick said: "We welcome the launch of this commission. Glasgow City Centre is the engine room of the regional economy. It is where so many of our successful businesses operate, where visitors come for the hotels, shops, bars, clubs, theatres and restaurants and where so much of our talent is educated. This Commission is an opportunity to take a fresh look at how this can be achieved responding to the changing expectations of consumers,

Other issues explored at the conference included the Council's intention to commission research on likely economic scenarios for Glasgow as a result of Brexit, greater engagement between the Council and the digital sector, and the development of a social enterprise strategy.

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