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Essay of the week: Dreamscapes: imagining the perfect Scottish town

FOR a long time, it has been depressing to visit many of the towns that, historically, formed the bedrock of Scotland's industry and culture; places that, first as a native son and then as the child of economic migrants, I used to regard with deep-rooted, defiant pride - in spite of their defects.

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The Scottish Government-funded bus service to support the Falkirk area’s major tourism drive was officially launched this week at the Falkirk Wheel with the unveiling of its distinctive new bus design.

The new hourly bus service, named The Loop, is funded by Transport Scotland and operated by local bus operator First Midland Bluebird and has been launched by Falkirk Council to boost connections between the area’s world class tourist attractions and other road and rail services over the summer season. The Loop takes in The Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk High and Grahamston Stations, Falkirk Town Centre, Falkirk Stadium, Callander Park and The Kelpies, with dedicated bus stop signs featuring VisitFalkirk branding to help signpost visitors to the route.

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Applications will open on June 1st for any small business owner interested in being part of this year’s Small Biz 100, the companies around the UK that will be at the forefront of this year’s campaign. Now entering its third year Small Business Saturday is already the UK's most successful small business campaign. Last year 16.5 million adults went out to support a small business on Small Business Saturday with 64% of the UK aware of the campaign. The UK’s small businesses between them provide 60% of private sector jobs and nearly 50% of private sector turnover. 

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In 2013 the Carnegie UK Trust published the popular report Across the Divide, which examined digital exclusion in Glasgow. This new research, produced in partnership with Ipsos MORI, examines the same issues in Dumfries and Kirkcaldy – looking at the barriers to digital participation and how these can be best addressed.

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The Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have engaged in a unique collaboration initiated by The Institute of Economic Development (IED), which has resulted in a new report entitled ‘A brighter future for our towns and cities’.

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It's not every day that a taxi driver is so effusive about the street furniture, so I was intrigued to find out what this particular set of Glasgow Southside lights had done to get my cabbie going. It turns out that these are 'smart' lights. To speed things up, they make flash decisions about changing colour based on the volume of cars waiting rather than being simply timed to change on a fixed pattern.

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The latest news from Big Lottery Fund's Village SOS. Village SOS is a campaign for any rural community project that wants support to make something happen. See volunteering and mentoring opportunities along with news on rural communities and the good neighbour schemes.

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TestTown is the UK and Ireland’s biggest accelerator programme for young entrepreneurs with fresh ideas for rejuvenating our high streets and town centres. You can visit the website www.testtown.org.uk to find out more about 2013 and 2014 activities.

This year Carnegie UK Trust will be supporting more towns across the UK and Ireland to hold local activities that support start-ups in ways that are appropriate and effective for each community. Providing up to 10 towns with funding of up to £3,000 each to run a skills development activity for entrepreneurs that uses the town centre. We are looking for activities that:

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STP Chair, Professor Leigh Sparks reflects on 'A Day for Towns' which took place in Edinburgh on 13 May. Beginning in the Storytelling Centre STP hosted it's AGM, Towns Tea Party and welcomed Julian Dobson to launch his book "How To Save Our Town Centres" for this first time in Scotland. The CPG on Towns and Town Centres followed in Parliament with presentations from Boots UK and Architecture and Design Scotland. Click here to read more.

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Listen to Professor Leigh Sparks, STP Chair and Head of Retail Studies at University of Stirling as he shares the Scotland's towns' story with CBC Radio in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Speaking to CBC Radio Leigh Sparks highlights the work currently taking place in Scotland to regenerate town centres, identifying the National Review of Town Centres to be a catalyst for change along with the Town Centre Action Plan. Click play to listen:

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The Resource Efficient Scotland Programme, delivered by Zero Waste Scotland, is offering funding support during 2015/16 to support Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) and third sector organisations who wish to implement resource efficiency improvements within their organisations.

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Rose Street Parking Price Restructure

Community Services have listened to concerns raised by Members, businesses and by members of the public about the Rose Street parking charges introduced on 1 April. There were particular concerns about the cost of long stay parking. 

Officers have recognised these difficulties and have taken these views into account, together with the remaining need to meet the commitment agreed to increase charges to meet savings targets. Considerable work has been done to re-model the pricing structure to reduce the impact on the public, whilst increasing income and maximising usage.

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Understanding Scottish Places is a website to help towns practitioners and communities better understand the function of the towns they live and work in.  The platform primarily functions as a diagnostic tool, and beyond that offers the opportunity to compare and contrast data about places across the country.

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Understanding Scottish Places is a website to help towns practitioners and communities better understand the function of the towns they live and work in.  The platform primarily functions as a diagnostic tool, and beyond that offers the opportunity to compare and contrast data about places across the country.

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An award winning project, the regeneration of Bridgegate Square in Irvine was part of a wider programme of improvements by North Ayrshire and Irvine Bay Regeneration Company and has completely rejuvenated the historic heart of the town.

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