‘Few if anyone could argue with the plans’

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WE demand many things from our politicians but the single most important one is that they spend our money wisely.

So Edinburgh voters will rightly take a keen interest in the pledges made by the parties vying to run the city for the next four years after May’s council elections.

Today, we reveal the current administration’s budget proposals for 2012-13 – and cynics might see the hint of early electioneering in the £26 million additional spending.

But the bottom line is that few, if anyone, could really argue with the plans, which will pump more cash into key local services.

More than £4m of that will go on city schools, most of it to clear about half of the backlog of outstanding repairs.

Frankly, nothing is more important than giving our young people the best possible learning environment – indeed, the other half must be prioritised in future years.

Libraries, public toilets, leisure facilities and the festivals will also benefit, while there’s an emphasis on improving opportunities for disadvantaged groups and the elderly.

There are two caveats, however. First, while efficiency savings and extra money from the Scottish Government mean this extra cash is available for the next financial year, large savings will be needed to meet deficits in the following two years.

Secondly, whoever forms the next council will be able to reverse the plans after May 3, though this seems unlikely given the popular areas targeted for spending.

Whoever forms the next administration will better spend their time thinking about the choppier waters ahead anyway, which is another reminder why voters will be looking for signs of fiscal prudence.

This is why the Liberal Democrats and SNP will spend much of the next 12 weeks reminding us that they have managed to balance the books while stockpiling a £13m reserve fund for disasters and emergencies – and why the opposition won’t stop mentioning the trams.

Ray of Light

IT’s like a prayer being answered – there will be some entertainment on the pitch at Murrayfield this year.

Forget the Six Nations, the fiercest ruck will be the scramble to get to the front row when pop queen Madonna rolls into town.

It will be one of the biggest gigs in the Capital’s history and the fact it is Madge’s first ever Scottish date is a major coup for the city and one which we should all welcome.

Now, if only our rugby stars could be inspired to get into the groove . . .