Comment: It’s reason to hope for a good Christmas

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ONE indicator of the health of the economy in London has traditionally been the “crane count” – the number of major construction projects visible on the skyline.

As the country appears gradually to emerge from recession, it seems the strength of Edinburgh’s economy may be the Christmas party count.

The Castle and other venues have reported a surge in festive bookings as companies begin to loosen the purse strings after years of cancelled or low-key Christmas dos.

There are also encouraging signs from the Capital’s own version of the crane count. Work is set to start soon on a £200 million development at the West End; the new Apple store is nearing completion in Princes Street; there seems to be movement on the redevelopment of the St James Centre; and the Caltongate project is stirring once more.

And latest figures show increasing footfall in the city centre, and Princes Street, in particular.

It all points to the Capital enjoying a strong and confident position and gives reason to hope we are in for a good Christmas.

Snow problem

IF the forecasters are right, we could be in for a severe winter.

And as we know when the snow comes, city council services are tested to the limit. We all remember what happened in 2010 when the city ground to a halt and soldiers had to be drafted in to clear ice and snow.

This year, if the worst happens, it could be a slightly different army we see on the streets – the volunteers of Lothian 4x4 Response.

The deal struck with the city council and reported today is a sensible precaution if we are going to see anything like the conditions of three years ago. They will be able to respond quickly and keep lifeline services running. Fingers-crossed they will never have to leave the garage.