Visits are vital
I commend your newspaper’s vigilance in monitoring overseas visits by council politicians and officials.
However, Andrew Whitaker’s article (20 July) contains some inaccuracies that I feel bound to respond to.
I have been on four overseas trips on council business in the past three years. I attended the BT-sponsored Vital Vision Executive Education programme in the US in 2010-11 and was one of seven senior officials from Scotland’s public sector to do so. I financed the return air fare to Boston personally.
I have never visited China, on council business or otherwise, nor have I spent anywhere like £7,000 on overseas flights and hotel bills in 2011-12.
I led a visit to the Gulf region in February 2012, approved by committee and by the chief executive. I addressed the fourth annual Urban Waterfront conference sponsored by a United Arab Emirates ministry and had a programme of 15 meetings and visits with Scottish companies based in the Gulf, local business organisations, science, technology and higher education contacts and prospective investors. Several fruitful opportunities have emerged from that trip.
I accompanied the council leader for three days at the 2012 Mipim Trade Fair in Cannes, at which she collected several awards for Edinburgh, including the Financial Times FDI magazine European large city awards for best foreign direct investment strategy and best inward investment prospects.
I had 12 meetings with investors and developers at Mipim. That week Edinburgh was also awarded the UK Green Investment Bank, hot on the heels of major investments by Amazon and Avaloq. The council’s international engagement strategy is pivotal to Edinburgh’s prospects of attracting investment and jobs to its key industry sectors.
The approach is well-targeted, complements the excellent work done by Scottish Development International and will reap future dividends for Scotland’s capital but it will require some overseas visits by the city’s leaders and senior officials to promote what Edinburgh has to offer against a backdrop of intensifying competition from cities across the globe.
Director of city development
City of Edinburgh Council
Helensburgh, Argyll & Bute
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