Comment: Loss of bridge hints at level of transformation

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On the grand scheme of the massive St James Quarter revamp, the loss of the landmark pedestrian bridge is not perhaps the most significant development.

However the news today that it will be consigned to the scrapheap when demolition gets underway next year does serve to bring home just what a transformation this area is set to undergo.

Love it or loathe it, the ten-year-old structure is known by just about everyone in the city.

The plans for the £850 million scheme detail how the street is going to become more pedestrian-friendly, leaving the bridge redundant. That in itself, to anyone who has driven the area, will today seem wildly ambitious. It also perhaps hints at the disruption which the work will cause.

But most of all it highlights the dramatic and exciting development which is about to take place.

Future spelt out

There is a popular children’s television programme on the Nickelodeon channel at the moment called Ni Hao Kai-Lan.

Without realising it, the youngsters watching are learning a tiny smattering of Mandarin. For those that don’t know, Ni Hao means hello.

There is nothing new about children learning from TV. We all did it to some extent, the big difference was the little bits of foreign language that we picked up were probably French or German. The experts have been telling us for a long time now that our children are better off learning Mandarin or Spanish.

Despite the clear logic of learning languages spoken in the world’s growing economies, you would be forgiven for thinking it seemed a bit unlikely to affect kids planning to stay in Scotland – until now. With Boots recruiting Mandarin speakers due to the big increase in Chinese visitors to Edinburgh, the advantage is suddenly clear. Say Ni Hao to the future.