Scotland’s Place Leadership Summit 21st November

Zoe Rush, Research Intern Corra Foundation, Place-based working project 

Corra Foundation and Scottish Towns Partnership recently convened Scotland’s ‘Place Leadership Summit’, supported by Scottish Government. The event brought together leaders from across Scotland to empower, inspire and challenge them to understand the importance of place in their lives and work, and embrace the Place Principle and place-based working as means of achieving inclusive growth and regeneration.

© Sandy young Photography, Scotland’s Towns Leadership Summit at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. From left to right: Phil Prentice, Chief Executive, Scotland’s Towns Partnership; Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government; Fiona Duncan, CEO, Corra Foundation.

The day was structured into three parts:

• The morning of the Place Summit began with speeches from Aileen Campbell and Steven Heddle, galvanising commitment to the Place Principle, and brought a host of representatives from across the third, private and community sector to be part of a panel discussion. This inspired reflections on what place really means to them, as well as discussing how we can act collectively to take forward the Place Principle.

• Eight examples of current place-based work featured in the second part of the day, illustrating ‘place’ as a key lens for focussing collaborations between different sectors and local communities. Opening the discussion to include delegates, these sessions explored what common enablers and barriers have been encountered, and encouraged delegates to think about actions that could be taken to move place-work forward.

• The final part of the day provided the space and opportunity for delegates to reflect on how place intersects with their own lives and work, with time for personal reflection, beginning conversations with others to share thinking and finally, considering what actions to take to improve and expand place-based practice.

© Sandy young Photography, Scotland’s Towns Leadership Summit at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh.Collective leadership for place work, from left to right: Fiona McKenzie, Director, Centrestage; Douglas Cowan, Director of Strengthening Communities, Highlands & Islands Enterprise Councillor; Graham Campbell, District General Manager, Scottish Power Energy Networks; Steven Heddle, CoSLA Environment and Economy Spokesperson; Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Scotland (David Wallace, BT Director of Business & Public Sector out of shot to the left).

“Implementing the place principle is about asking questions across all spatial and geographical scales: what is this place for and how do people use it? As we seek the answers we need to commit to engaging with, and involving local people and communities in determining where and how we invest our finite resources and make the most of our combined assets” (Aileen Campbell, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for communities and Local Government Scotland).

What actions are necessary to embed place and the place principle in decision-making?

Speakers in event workshop

© Sandy young Photography
Scotland’s Towns Leadership Summit at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh.

Roundtable discussion at event

© Sandy young Photography, Scotland’s Towns Leadership Summit at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. ‘Local Wealth Building: Delivering Inclusive Economies’ session facilitated by Sandy Brunton, Chair, Development Trusts Association Scotland with Ted Howard, co-founder and president of The Democracy Collaborative and Neil McInroy, Managing Director, Centre for Local Economic Strategy (CLES).

“Ideas are not predictable at the beginning. Getting the right people around the table is what’s important” (Ted Howard, co-founder and president of The Democracy Collaborative).

The day reflected a strong sense that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and the solutions to the problems we face are not held by one person, organisation, or model that can be applied in every place. The context, place and diversity of voices is what matters and what enables sustained and transformational change.

How can we ensure change in the community reflects diversity of voice and place?

“…this is personal, it starts where you were born and grew up, live, work… it’s really not new either, we have many examples of where people have come together and made really good things happen… go and find a friend, and commit to remain a friend all through the process… be prepared to stick with this. It will be difficult, complicated and complex, frustrating… but keep talking until it all comes good” (Lesley Fraser, Director Housing and Social Justice, Scottish Government).

So we ask again, what will it take to shift this work on, both personally and collectively?

Some of the actions we’ve heard from delegates include:

• Meeting colleagues after the summit to discuss how place could be embedded in their current work

• Visiting projects of interest to discuss the work going on, and similarities and differences to their own communities and places

• Harnessing the skills, talents and connections locally to support communities get where they want to be

• Considering how their organisation views places and articulating the need to include communities in decisions that affect them

• Listening to people beyond the ‘usual suspects’ about what works in different circumstances and supporting learning transfer (each place requires tailored bespoke solutions)

• Engaging stakeholders in a place to work out a vision for their town

• Living the behaviours, like listening to unusual suspects, finding friends, being persistent.

Illustrators drawing at event

© Sandy young Photography, Scotland’s Towns Leadership Summit at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh.

We are currently compiling the data from the day and will share in a report soon. If you joined us on the day and haven’t already completed the evaluation form please find it here.

See the conversations that were happening online during the Summit here and our partner Scotland’s Towns Partnership have a collection of resources from their celebrations of Scotland’s Towns Week 2018, including photo highlights from the event here.

We can’t thank everyone enough who contributed their time, effort and unique skills and knowledge – from the rousing commitments from our place leaders to the facilitators and contributors who brought their stories of ongoing place-work throughout Scotland, England and USA to life, to Linda who captured the energy and conversations in the room through visual scribing, and to the delegates themselves who contributed their unique perspectives and expertise in the many discussions throughout the day.

Post it note

© Sandy young Photography, Scotland’s Towns Leadership Summit at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh.

© Sandy young Photography,,

Visual scribing by Linda Hunter, Internal consultant Scottish Government, twitter: @LidnaStitt