Thursday, 8 December 2011
Lighten Up Edinburgh!
The whole of Europe must know about the dismal Edinburgh tram project and the problems created by incompetent councillors and other officials. The streets of Edinburgh have been dug up for some years now and small businesses have closed by the dozen, yet the councillors have decided Edinburgh needs trams. It doesn't. It has a bus service which is second to none but will be shunted into the sidings if, or when, the tram line is completed.
There's something very wrong in the corridors of power of Edinburgh's City Chambers. Those who purport to 'listen to the people' appear to be deaf and others seem to live in a fictional bubble.
It will be a few years until the streets are safe from roadworks if all goes to plan, yet the Burghers want to further reduce parking in a highly residential part of the Old Town. Even someone like me, who lived in Edinburgh only for a short time many years ago, knows the traffic chaos which will ensue from this new fantasy. The Burghers detest cars and are determined to ensure none reach the city centre - with exceptions of course for the great and the good.
Also this week, rearing its head once again, is the proposal for a tourist tax. The idea is to tax hotel accommodation and the Burghers are excited with the estimate that it could raise up to £10m a year in this way. Nowhere else in the UK is this tax implemented - mainly because it is blatant greed - but the green councillor thinks it's a wonderful idea because "it's unlikely to discourage visitors or affect the hotel trade." I did mention a fictional bubble didn't I?
For some months now Jenners of Princes Street, the famous department store (shown in photograph), has been tastefully lit up. But Edinburgh's main heritage watchdog, the Cockburn Association, isn't happy because Princes Street risks being 'tacky' if retailers are allowed to light up their buildings after dark without proper permission. I understand Primark has also illuminated their new building but can find no images of it.
This objection caused much laughter here. Edinburgh's streets have been like bomb sites for years; walking up the Royal Mile allows visitors to see and hear varying levels of tackiness from certain retailers and Princes Street has been a pathetic shadow of its former self for the past 30 years, yet there is objection to retailers lighting up their premises. The necessary permission will include a hefty fee no doubt.
It's time the City Chambers was cleared out and people installed who understand the responsibilities and duties connected with governing a great city. Such responsibilities are not always about taxing businesses and people until they bleed or move to other parts of the country.
Until then all I ask is - lighten up Edinburgh.