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Stronger councils for a stronger local economy

The local economy has been damaged and the future of many businesses threatened by the Covid pandemic. Lifestyles, services, travel patterns and choices have changed, sometimes permanently, whilst many local businesses have adapted to new opportunities. Councils must direct resources and effort to supporting recovery on a better basis than before, in partnership with local business.There are major opportunities to keep "leisure pounds" local and to back good local businesses which provide sustainable local jobs.

Liberal Democrats will champion the role of councils in local economic development, reinvigorating town centres and backing good local businesses which provide sustainable jobs. We will:

  • Make full use of councils' economic clout, with better partnerships with local business around decisions and priorities.
  • Set the standard for fair employment practice, fair pay, youth employment and the use of local and small suppliers through council contracts.
  • Secure the connections to superfast broadband which communities need to work, learn and thrive. Our plans for community connection managers will broker bespoke solutions for communities, particularly in remoter and island areas that have been left out of the main central government programmes. We will also support the

Liberal Democrat campaign to require broadband providers to give cheaper tariffs to vulnerable consumers.

  • Adopt new tourism strategies to take advantage of more people choosing holidays in Scotland and give businesses the best chance of capitalising. We will enact a substantial programme of capital works in tourist areas to provide better car parking, electric charging points, public toilets and waste disposal points.
  • Work to protect the creative industries that have been hit hard by the pandemic. We will protect performance, rehearsal and exhibition spaces that are at risk because of the lower footfall legacy of the pandemic but which are essential to communities. We will work to get more arts into more communities than ever before to inspire and entertain, including into schools.
  • Establish local Green Strategy Boards to drive change and help local firms get the benefit of transition support, minimise their environmental impact, and create green jobs and the industries of the future.
  • Provide more apprenticeships.
  • Encourage more diverse, small and micro businesses through council enterprise support, valuing community impact and getting them beyond the start-up phase.
  • Support food strategies designed to reduce food miles, encourage greater use of local produce in schools, back community food initiatives and champion our regional specialties.
  • Encourage colleges to become enterprise hubs, particularly in rural areas, meeting local skills needs and supporting innovative new businesses.
  • Create fantastic local business opportunities and green jobs through our plans for warmer homes, heat networks and our focus on the climate emergency.

We will:

  • Aim to simplify the crowded economic landscape of City Deals and partnerships, allowing councils and their partners new flexible opportunities for supporting the local economy.
  • Support local high streets, increasing the footfall by converting empty shops for alternative uses such as multi-use hubs for public agencies, employment or leisure projects, or residential accommodation where sensible.