‘It’s what you expect on a break in Paris’

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IMAGINE strolling around a traffic-free George Street on a warm summer evening and browsing in your favourite shops.

Maybe you’ve popped into town after work, or headed in early before dinner or a show – either way you’ve beaten the Saturday afternoon crush.

It’s all so continental, what you expect on holiday in Paris, rather than at home in Edinburgh.

But wouldn’t it be great if it 
catches on after this summer’s Alive After Five campaign to persuade shops to stay open until 7pm on weekdays in August? So far more than 120 have signed up, including big names like John Lewis.

Of course, the benefits of late opening are far more than just the extra chances they offer us to 
shop.

There is the chance for our hard-pressed traders to boost their coffers – and it is an important part of what we can offer tourists.

What would you think on holiday if all the shops shut at 5pm in a supposedly buzzing, cosmopolitan city? Would you go back in a hurry?

It makes no sense to spend so much time and money attracting tourists to the city and then putting up “closed” signs left, right and 
centre.

It would be great to see this initiative thrive and repeated next 
summer and even other times during the year.

The acid test will be how many people turn up and spend their money. Without the customers, stores won’t embrace it.

Golden Hoy

Edinburgh’s Sir Chris Hoy became the most successful British Olympian of all time after winning his fifth Olympic gold medal yesterday.

Afterwards, he reflected on it by saying: “What a day. Can’t do it 
justice.”

The 36-year-old, competing in his fourth Games, won the one-kilometre time-trial gold in Athens in 2004, three titles in Beijing and has now drawn level with Sir Steve Redgrave as the Briton with the most Games golds.

It’s now up to the people of his home city to try and make sense of his achievements (which could get even better – he’s up for gold in the Keirin on Tuesday) by giving him the Freedom of the City. It is the greatest honour a city can bestow and he would follow only Sir Sean Connery, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Deputy leader Steve Cardownie has already set the wheels in motion to ensure Scotland’s capital recognises not only its greatest sportsman, but also Britain’s greatest 
Olympian.