‘A golden opportunity to settle debate’

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IT’S an idyllic vision of the future of the city’s most famous shopping street, and it is cast up from time to time.

Pedestrians wandering along a traffic-free Princes Street – well, traffic-free apart from trams and bikes – enjoying the magnificent views without a single rumbling bus engine or exhaust fume to spoil the ambience.

We all know it would make visiting the city centre a far more uplifting experience, and there is no doubt that Princes Street could use some TLC right now.

But the question is not what would happen to Princes Street if it were pedestrianised, as at least some in the council appear keen to see, but what would happen elsewhere?

As we have seen during the recent tram work diversions, George Street is no better suited to carrying the huge number of buses that crisscross the city centre than its more famous neighbour.

Indeed, many would argue that its existing mix of designer shops and cafe-bars make it a better option for pedestrianisation.

Maybe it’s possible to take steps to alleviate the pressure in George Street so that we can get the best out of Princes Street without ruining the rest of the city centre. Maybe . . .

This newspaper would love to be convinced there is a way to make the pedestrianisation vision real, but we’ll take some convincing.

In the meantime, we welcome the fact that the proposed trial traffic ban is likely to take place straight after the tram works and before the city returns to normal after the Festival. This at least should be a golden opportunity to settle the debate, while minimising disruption.

Of course, one thing we have to rely on now is the tram works in Princes Street being completed on time so that the trial can take place before the end of the Festival.

It’s time to go . .

a head of steam seems to be building behind the removal of the Occupy Edinburgh protest camp in St Andrew Square.

As ever, the News acknowledges that there are two sides to every story, and that is why on this page today we give the protesters a chance to say why they should stay.

But it is clear from the correspondence this newspaper has received on the subject that vast majority of people who live in the Capital think it is time to reclaim the square.

We also report the first hint that Essential Edinburgh may follow authorities elsewhere and take action to evict the protesters.

We hope the ragtag bunch left in the tents take the hint first and follow our advice: it’s time to go.