‘Bad joke that has a familiar ring about it’

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IT is one of those ideas which makes you run to the calendar to check it’s not April 1st.

Today’s news that London’s Olympic organisers want to hijack Edinburgh Castle and use it as a giant advertising hoarding is simply ridiculous.

We are all for supporting the Olympics, which will be a fantastic event benefiting the entire nation, but is it really necessary to vandalise our most iconic building with five giant aluminium rings? It is not as if anyone in the city will be unaware of the Games going on.

This marketing “gem” reads like it has been dreamt up by Seb Coe’s team after an overly-enthusiastic brain-storming session.

The games organisers have plans for similar signs in Cardiff and Belfast, but in London, where the event is being held, the locations revealed to date are the far more appropriate Tower Bridge and St Pancras Station . . . strangely not Buckingham Palace or the House of Commons.

Surely another prominent yet acceptable site can be found in the centre of Edinburgh. No-one would mind if the symbol was stuck on the roof of the Scottish Parliament, for instance. Or it could be a less intrusive light projection on to the Castle Rock at night.

The danger is that, because this plan is connected to the Olympics juggernaut, the normal rules will not apply when it comes to the city council for approval. Instead of being laughed out of the City Chambers, our councillors may feel pressure to give it the nod.

That cannot happen. Our elected representatives must have the courage to stand up to an Olympic champion, say no to Seb, and make sure this ludicrous plan never gets off the starting blocks.

Prickly problem

so, the eagerly-awaited £850 million revamp of the St James Centre is facing potential problems thanks to the trams debacle. One knock-on effect of stopping the line in the city centre means developer Henderson Global Investors no longer has the land it needs for rehousing the Thistle Hotel, a “critical” part of its plans.

The creation of the St James Quarter is the biggest and most important development in the city centre for a generation – far more significant than the hotly-disputed Caltongate scheme. We can only hope that some way around this pitfall can be found in the months ahead. The council is sure to be doing all it can to make sure that happens.

But this just goes to show, once again, that the ramifications of the botched handling of the tram project just go on and on and on . . .