the question of whether or not petrol station shops should be allowed to sell alcohol seems relatively straightforward, whichever side of the argument you might fall on.
But it is now three years since the row first blew up in Edinburgh and we are still no nearer to getting a definitive answer.
The city council has taken a relatively hardline approach by refusing licences to a string of stores across the Capital.
But at least one high street chain has successfully challenged this using a clause primarily designed to protect rural petrol stations.
Others now intend to follow by arguing that clearing their shelves of wine and beer will “materially disadvantage or inconvenience” their customers. There is only one clear winner in all this – and that is the lawyers who are collecting hefty fees, much of it from the public purse.
The city council may well have created some of its own problems by taking such an unbending approach.
It does not appear to have considered that it is not only remote Highland outposts which can suffer if their local petrol station is forced out of business by the often significant loss of income from alcohol sales.
There are many neighbourhoods within the Capital where local shops are struggling and the petrol station store offers a significant service to the community. The council should take greater care to support these businesses.
But the city’s appeal to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill – in whose Edinburgh East and Musselburgh constituency one of the affected stations sits – is a sensible step.
If he can bring some clarity to the situation, it will save even more public money pouring down the drain marked lawyers fees.
Bring in litter patrol
the huge mess left in the Meadows following the glorious weekend sunshine was as predictable as it is depressing.
How many times have we found ourselves in such a situation after a major event or particularly busy day in the city calendar?
We should not be left just to moan and count the cost afterwards each time it happens – not when we have a ready-made answer at hand.
Just think what a difference a few high-profile patrols by our litter wardens would have made. There is always the concern that sending them into a situation where many people are likely to have been drinking may just be inviting trouble.
But in all likelihood they would not have to hand out many fines any- way as their presence alone would make most people think twice.