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Edinburgh is a world-famous city. To some it is known for culture: the major International Festival every August, the Fringe festival, or the more recent Hogmanay events. To others it is associated more with history: the Castle, the Royal Mile, pipers and tartan. It has a unique cityscape and urban heritage: the medieval old town and the 18th century ‘new’ town have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is a tourist city on a world scale with a unique setting.
But it is also a very modern city, with a vibrant and growing economy. The (re)establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 has renewed its role as a capital city. The financial services sector is booming, and it has a world-wide reputation for research and innovation. Population and employment in Edinburgh and its surrounding region are increasing, in contrast to the rest of Scotland. Some economic indicators illustrating the success of the economy include1]:
Population within the Lothians – Edinburgh and its immediate hinterland – is forecast to grow by 50,000 over 15 years, while employment growth is focused very much on the city itself, with an extra 35,000 jobs over the same period (see table below). These substantial increases reflect the city’s success. The consequence is an expected shortfall in labour supply in and around Edinburgh, which will inevitably mean more in-commuting over longer distances. Travel in the city’s wider catchment area will increase, adding to the pressures already faced by the road network and rail services.One of the contributory factors to Edinburgh’s success is undoubtedly the quality of life and environment it offers to its residents, workers and visitors. To attract key financial services staff, and tourists, these factors count and the city must maintain its competitive edge against global comparators. Transport is one area on which the city is benchmarked by investors and visitors.
Social concerns are also driving the need for action. An important objective for the city is to improve access to employment and other facilities for socially excluded groups. Despite a very low rate of unemployment overall, deprivation and social exclusion are still to be found in some areas and amongst certain groups.
1] EDINBURGH AND THE LOTHIANS STRUCTURE PLAN JOINT COMMITTEE, Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan 2015: Supporting Statement, Edinburgh, 2003.
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