Comment: West End can look forward to future

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SATURDAY will be a day many traders in the West End no doubt thought they may never see.

For the first time in years, the streets will be free of tram-related roadworks and chaos. They will be released from the prison of temporary fencing which has driven traffic and trade away.

Sadly as we know, several businesses have already gone, beaten by the twin impact of the roadworks and the recession.

Those which have survived – some only just – have been joined by new retailers moving in attracted by the imminent arrival of the tram. They can now all look forward to a rosier future.

The end of works at Haymarket last weekend has already led to an upsurge in trade in the area, with the hope that this will be repeated for the businesses around Shandwick Place this weekend.

Then when the tram finally begins running, footfall is expected to increase dramatically, helped by the stop on Shandwick Place.

Businesses will, hopefully quickly, go from struggling to make ends meet to enjoying their best trade for years.

Will that be enough to convince the West End that it was worth all the pain? Time will tell and the jury will no doubt remain out for some time.

In the meantime, the city council has to do all it can to drive people back to the area and allow shoppers to rediscover the area.

The recovery starts here.

The West End has survived the trams and is open for business.

Third time lucky?

So no baby panda for Edinburgh Zoo in its high-profile centenary year. But prepare yourself as experts try, try and try again. The panda pregnancy updates for 2014 are only around the corner with preparatory work beginning in January.

But nature has demonstrated that it doesn’t like to be rushed. Will it be third time lucky?