‘City projects at risk from this budget’

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there’S a nasty resurgence of the “you’ll have had your trams” jibes in the row sparked by yesterday’s Scottish budget plans.

A few opportunistic councillors from the west got their retaliation in first – claiming before John Swinney even got to his feet that their authorities would end up paying for an SNP “bail-out” of the Capital scheme, as well as funding the Forth replacement crossing.

When Mr Swinney confirmed he would shift cash from day-to-day spending to pay for big capital projects he made it clear that he did expect councils to shoulder some of the burden through savings.

And if local authorities still want to proceed with local projects which might otherwise be lost in the squeeze they are expected to find their own borrowings to do so.

But it is quite wrong, and indeed offensive, for the likes of Glasgow leader Gordon Matheson to make sniffy comments about Edinburgh somehow being to blame.

The Capital, after all, has subsidised much of Scotland for years, not just through the unfair reallocation of business rates, but as the nation’s biggest economic powerhouse and its strongest tourist magnet.

Meanwhile, studies have repeatedly shown that Glasgow gets an unhealthy share of the welfare state and the NHS budget – with Edinburgh’s hospitals left far behind.

The trams and the new bridge will benefit the whole country, not just Edinburgh. And, as we report today, projects in this city are at risk from the budget, like the crucial Water of Leith flood prevention scheme.

Mr Matheson should remember that we’re all in this together, rather than playing petty civic politics.

Step to recovery

the rebirth of the Scotsman Steps as somewhere which is uplifting, rather than unpleasant, to visit is an event worthy of cautious optimism.

Cautious, because the closure of new safety gates at night has undoubtedly been a factor in the transformation of the B-listed walkway from a sour-smelling and ominous place to be. What’s more, it feels a bit premature to be declaring the steps trouble-free only four months after their £325,000 revamp.

And yet there is something very encouraging about the way the Steps now welcome admiring glances rather than wrinkled noses from passers-by every day.

Perhaps – just perhaps – this shows that if we turn our urban environment into something to be proud of rather than somewhere to avoid, or even vandalise, then people will care for it accordingly.