Comment: Weather must be kind for festival dining

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The idea of al fresco dining in Edinburgh at the moment is difficult to get excited about.

Come the warmer weather, however, when sitting outside to eat your tea won’t have to carry a health warning, it starts to look like an attractive proposition.

Much has been said already about the drive to create a European-style cafe culture in the city centre and – despite the apparent failure of the temporary decking and marquees on George Street – it remains a laudable aim.

The latest idea will see the rules relaxed for festival season, allowing bars and restaurants near major venues to operate outdoors later opening and without having to jump through mountains of redtape for the privilege.

If it is a success, it could well be rolled out further and there seems to be little reason why it shouldn’t take off.

There may well be concerns from nearby residents about increased noise and the potential for antisocial behaviour but this should be a proposal which only really impacts on the city centre.

The city centre, especially at festival time, is not a peaceful place to start with.

Restricting the hours of operation of outdoor tables in areas outside George Street should deal with these concerns.

There’s an argument, if anything, to make it later.

There will of course need to be careful monitoring and strong action taken against those found to be breaking the rules.

But as last year on George Street proved, when the weather and the atmosphere is right, al fresco eating and drinking can be a real hit in the Capital.

Whether it works outside of festival time or not remains to be seen.

But as a way of making our city centre as welcoming and vibrant as possible, this has to be worth a shot.

All we need, of course, is the weather to be kind.