FIRST it was Sir Tom Farmer, then celebrity chef Tom Kitchin, and now it is the man who turned Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations into a major international festival, Pete Irvine.
What do the three have in common? Apart from making their fortunes by building hugely successful businesses in Edinburgh, of course. You’ve no doubt worked out the link by now if you have read our interview today with Pete Irvine. They are all supporters of the idea of extending the tram line to Leith.
Now there are those who will continue to scratch their heads at the idea of spending millions on a project which has caused us so much grief – and expense – already. Yes, we have a first-class bus service, and, yes, building a tram line is disruptive and expensive. No-one is arguing against such undeniable facts. Yet the idea behind the tram line was always about more than getting people from A to B. It was about shaping the future of the city. Taking polluting cars and buses off the road and replacing them with a more efficient, environmentally-friendly way of getting about.
But it was also about the chance to breathe new life into a part of the city that is largely missing out on the rising quality of life enjoyed by so many of us across the rest of the Capital.
The potential of Edinburgh’s Waterfront is massive, the setting spectacular. Desperately needed homes, jobs in the midst of some of our most deprived communities, the possible benefits are clear.
Yet most of the land has stood derelict for years, before and after the economic crash. One of the problems with creating a Hydro-style concert venue in Leith was always that it wasn’t an easy place to get to for most of the population of central Scotland outside of Edinburgh. There is no doubt the tram would bring many more people and much more investment to Leith. That is one of the reasons why support for the extension is growing.