MORE than a dozen Catalan mayors and other councillors have arrived in Edinburgh to exchange “good practice” ideas with their Scottish counterparts.

The delegation comes from the Catalan Association of Municipalities (ACM) which represents more than 900 local authorities in Catalonia.

They arrived in Edinburgh yesterday and will end their three-day visit in Glasgow.

During their time here they will meet representatives from their Scottish counterpart body Cosla and Festivals Edinburgh, as well as the lord provosts of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The party will visit Holyrood to meet Scottish Government Europe Minister Ben McPherson and Joan McAlpine, convener of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations committee. They are also scheduled to have lunch with Professor Clara Ponsati, the St Andrews academic and former Catalan education minister.

ACM President, David Saldoni, told The National: “The idea of the mission is to find out more about good practices in cultural policies.

“We decided to come here now because the Edinburgh International Festival finishes tomorrow and we’re going to see how the city is managing this huge event – several festivals at the same time. It’s quite impressive.

“We have mayors from towns and cities who also have their own festivals, theatre or music events.”

One of those is in Girona, whose mayor Marta Madrenas i Mir, is with the delegation. Her city hosts the Autumn Festival of Catalonia between October 5 and December 9.

Saldoni was intrigued that culture and foreign affairs tended to go hand-in-hand with each other across Scottish authorities.

“It’s interesting that here in Scotland culture goes together with foreign affairs in many administrations. The Cabinet Secretary is for Foreign Affairs and Culture, for instance.

“We are talking to people who are implementing interesting practices in cultural policies. We’re here to exchange some good practices.”

He said they wanted to strengthen Catalan-Scottish links at a local, political level: “It’s an example of city diplomacy to strengthen the relationship between Catalonia and Scotland.

“We decided to choose this cultural issue as one we wanted to work on and we would like to see a visit of local politicians from Scotland to Catalonia maybe in the coming months.”

He added: “We’re going to Switzerland in two weeks to find out about their democratic experiences as they hold regular referenda on specific issues.

“It’s city and town diplomacy and a good start for strong and robust relationships between countries and politicians.”