STP Chieff Officer Blog


In April this year the Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess launched the Understanding Scottish Places (USP) toolkit. Since then we have seen over 10,000 hits to the USP, delivered 7 towns roadshows across Scotland, showcasing USP and developed the Your Town Audit health check tool. All of this was developed in wide consultation with the public, private and third sector alongside our data collaborative and academic partners.

USP is the first tool of this type in the UK and has generated significant interest from Government bodies in Wales, England and Ireland who have all recognised the value in having such a comprehensive data platform.

It is a platform measuring every town in the country with a population of 1,000 or more, and provides us with the first ever typology for Scotland's towns. Uniquely, it can show how dependent or independent each town is against a carefully agreed scale of measures. This provides practitioners, businesses and investors with a fantastic starting point to see how to improve things and perhaps to see where others within the same towns typology are doing slightly better. It is critical that all towns and town centre improvement activity such as a BID, starts off with a solid evidence base, ultimately this will enable stronger decision making but importantly it will also provide a means to measure success and progress (or indeed the lack of it). Once you have established your USP typology, the next step is to build a more detailed picture and this is where the Your Town Audit comes in.

This is our attempt to standardise the way we measure the health of Scotland's towns.

The DIY (or light version) of the Your Town Audit has been developed to complement the national data available about your town through the Understanding Scottish Places data platform. Created by STP and EKOS, (again in wide consultation) it offers a simple way of capturing locally available data on towns. The USP Audit Manual guides you through the process of gathering a range of 50 relevant indicators across 7 KPI themes: 1. Locality Data, 2. Accessibility, 3. Local Services, 4. Activity/Events, 5. Development Capacity, 6. Tourism and Visitor Profile and 7. Place/Quality Impression

These can be collated on the USP Audit Template which is also provided on the USP site. By collating this data in one place, you can draw analysis and easily compare results year on year. USP Audits can also be used to compare with other towns in your region and nationally.

Scotland's Towns Partnership can also deliver a fuller version of Your Town Audit which covers the 7 KPI Themes above but looks at gathering 250 relevant indicators to build an excellent baseline for your town. This takes 12 days and there is a one off cost attached, but we will train your staff, (whether that is Council, Town Centre Partnership or BID staff) so that they can do this for themselves in future.

More BIDs and Councils are adapting this approach so have a look below and come and talk to us.

All blogs by STP Chief Officer can be found here.

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