Christmas parking - ‘End results must be good for businesses’

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THE free parking bonanza for Christmas shoppers is probably the only part of the wider trams project which has proved popular with the general public.

Charges were first scrapped for evenings and Saturday afternoons in the run-up to Christmas 2007 to help ease the pain of the tram works.

And the festive giveaway was such a hit – both with shoppers and, crucially, city centre traders – that it continued until being dropped for last year’s tram works-free Christmas.

This year, the roadworks are back with a vengeance – but there is likely to be no free parking. That will be a disappointment to shoppers. But they will understand why the council is cautious about a scheme that would cost it around £70,000 in lost revenue.

However, it will come as a bitter blow to shopkeepers who are now facing all the pain once again . . . but without the painkiller.

There are events planned to draw people into Princes Street and spread the message that the city centre is open for business and accessible.

Understandably, there won’t be a huge budget to make that job easier, but a little inspiration and a lot of hard work can overcome that.

The end results will have to be good, though, to prevent more city-centre businesses going to the wall this winter.

We await details of the plans with great anticipation, because a couple of buskers clearly won’t cut it.

Lesson to learn

THE success of Sami Syed is proof, if proof were needed, that kids can enjoy exam success whatever school they attend.

It might also be food for thought for those Edinburgh parents – currently more than one in four – who choose to pay for a private education.

Drummond Community High School might be ranked a lowly 20th in the city’s state school league table, but if Sami could get six As in his Highers then clearly something right was happening.

However, it is also clear that Sami is not just exceptionally bright, he is also exceptionally driven. He had to study an extra subject on his own because it could not be squeezed into the school day.

His experience is unusual, but it points to wider inflexibilities in the school curriculum, which often prevents pupils from studying the subjects they really want to, or the ones they are best at.

And unfortunately – notwithstanding Sami’s experience – while lots of resources are thrown at supporting under-achieving kids, not enough is available to stretch the brightest.