Leader: ‘Barriers only foster a culture of suspicion’

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MEADOWBANK sport centre’s decision to introduce a blackout at their cafe to prevent members of he public from observing a gymnastics class for young children class is of great concern.

In many ways the centre, and its operators Edinburgh Leisure, are in a difficult position. There are great sensitivities around children and particularly so when they are performing gymnastics. Once concerns are raised – even from a single parent – the centre needs to take some form of action.

However, the overall culture that is created from blocking any sort of viewing results is discomfort for all. It creates a situation which is unhealthy for everyone and where men in particular – even fathers waiting for their own children – don’t feel as though they can look at children.

Just like the row over the taking of photographs and video at school nativity plays, common sense and proper investigation are what is required. In many schools, once all parents were asked their views, the majority came out in favour of allowing pictures and video at Christmas. Most fair-minded people realise that creating artificial barriers between law-abiding and caring parents and other children is fostering a culture of distrust and suspicion which does little to tackle the real problem.

There are other ways to deal with the issue. If someone was seen taking photos at Meadowbank were they challenged? Staff training could be amended to ensure greater vigilance.

The ties that bind our society together must not be allowed to loosen because of fear and rumour.

Small Steps

A successful test of Edinburgh’s trams running at full speed may not seem like much to celebrate.

It will provoke the predictable reaction among many of “who cares? just get the thing finished”, but yesterday’s photocall at Gogar does mark yet another important milestone for the ill-fated project.

The test may have been done for the cameras with little left to chance, but it does add to the continuing feeling of momentum.

Transport Minister Keith Brown was there and joked that the tram running over a deer on the line could have been a public relations disaster. The truth, of course, is that it would be tough for anything to lower the public’s impression of the tram at the moment.

A short test run between the depot and the airport at 43mph is not going to aid the PR effort that much, but completing and opening the line on time and within the new budget would be the first step.