ScotRail today became the first private company to sign up to the Scotland’s Town Centre First Principle, which aims to boost the economic, social and environmental fabric of the nation’s towns.
David Lister, ScotRail’s Safety, Sustainability and Assurance Director, was met by Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands, as he officially signed up to the principle at the Scotland’s National Towns Conference in Falkirk Town Hall.
The Scottish Government and COSLA jointly launched the Town Centre First Principle in 2014 to encourage organisations to make long-term decisions and investment choices that acknowledge the importance of town centres.
Scotland’s local authorities and public bodies are applying the principle, but ScotRail is the first private company to adopt the principle so far.
As part of its commitment, ScotRail will create a Local Stations Strategy to help identify and deliver town centre investment and development projects.
These could include initiatives such as residential, leisure or retail schemes, as well as partnerships with external organisations such as councils, house builders and developers.
Mr Lister said: “We are proud to be the first company in Scotland to endorse the principle, which we believe can make a real difference for the communities we serve.
“We’re determined to go beyond just transporting people from A to B by also providing wider economic and social benefits for Scottish communities. Adopting the Town Centre First Principle is an important element of that vision.”
Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands, said: “The Scottish Government wants to see flourishing town centres as the focal point of community life, providing a base for people to live, work, socialise and do business. The Town Centre First Principle is about promoting investment and improving the experience of town centres by encouraging a collaborative approach to planning and delivery of services.
“Good accessibility by public transport is a vital component of vibrant town centres, and I welcome ScotRail’s bold commitment to support this initiative by using local stations for community and business use.
“This scheme builds on work we are already doing through the Stations Community Regeneration Fund which is breathing new life into old and disused railway station premises. As Transport Minister I want Scotland’s stations to be a hub for community life and I believe we have a great opportunity to improving the rail experience, support community initiatives and create jobs.”
Councillor Stephen Hagan, COSLA spokesperson for Development, Economy and Sustainability, said: “Undoubtedly town centre regeneration remains a priority for local authorities, along with partners in the wider public sector, businesses and communities themselves. The train station is a focal point for many places across Scotland and therefore I welcome the ScotRail alliance’s commitment to the principle of town centre first.
“To help reinvigorate Scotland’s town centres a collective approach which understands the long term vision for each town centre is required, which will make our town centres fit and viable places to interact, do business, and access facilities and services.
“Given the importance of town centres to local communities across Scotland, we hope that the Town Centre First Principle is the first step in helping to ensure the viability of Scotland’s town centres going forward.”
ScotRail’s commitment was made at Scotland’s Towns Partnership’s Annual Conference, the main event in Scotland’s Towns Week. Hundreds of delegates are attending this year’s Abellio-sponsored event at the town hall, which is currently hosting miniature versions of the iconic Kelpies sculptures.