Election costs - ‘City shouldn’t suffer for doing the right thing’

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ANYONE who remembers the shambolic scenes which Scotland woke up to on May 4, 2007, will know the real value of a well-run election count.

The morning after going to the polls to elect a new Scottish Parliament we expected to learn whether Alex Salmond had succeeded in ousting Labour First Minister Jack McConnell.

Instead, we were greeted with scenes of chaos and incompetence which would lead Labour to consider a legal challenge to the widely questioned election result. And the worst of the chaos took place here in the Capital.

Contrast that with last May when the referendum on Westminster electoral reform was held on the same day as the Scottish Parliament election. There was huge potential for confusion and mishap yet polling in the Lothians went without a major hitch.

That was due at least in part to the decision to almost double the staff on election duty, but also to other factors such as a huge rise in postal voting.

The city may have erred on the side of caution, but in the circumstances it was eminently sensible, and helped ensure Scotland was not left shame-faced again.

Yet as a result city council tax payers are now facing a £111,000 bill, as the Capital has overspent on the strict limit set to cover such expenses.

That means the city will be forced into further cuts as the cash-strapped local authority battles to balance its books.

That is simply wrong. The overspend must be covered by central funds. The city should not suffer for doing the right thing.

For, as we know to our cost, the price of a competently run election is well worth paying.

Don’t bank on it

The bank of Vlad is open in Edinburgh. The move, which seemed about as likely as Hearts going a month without turmoil, has happened – quietly and without the colourful Lithuanian’s usual fanfare.

As a new business, Ukio Bankas is of course to be welcomed to Castle Street. Is it a sign for long-suffering Jambos that Vlad may now be committed to the club and the city in the long term?

Following the Evening News revealing last week that he is selling part of the former RBS HQ, which he had intended to develop, possibly not.

Only one thing is for certain, no-one can second-guess Mr Romanov’s next move.