There is a lot about Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s plans for the army that makes sense. Closing our military bases in Germany is logical because it will save money and it is a long time since there was any military justification for keeping them there.
Keeping a strong presence in those parts of the country which have traditionally supported the military – and where communities have in turn come to rely on bases for their economic well-being – was another important principle he has recognised.
He has recognised the principle, but when it comes to Edinburgh he has done little to follow it through.
It is true that the Capital has avoided the devastation that would have been caused by the complete closure of Dreghorn and Redford Barracks.
But the number of troops in the Capital will nevertheless be cut by 40 per cent. The impact of that will be widely felt across Colinton, Oxgangs and the surrounding area.
When it comes to the Government backtracking on its commitment to double the number of troops based in Scotland, it is Edinburgh that will now pay the price.
Mr Hammond also talked about “providing greater stability for our military personnel and their families”, yet that very stability is being taken away from the Royal Scots Borderers and their loved ones.
With yesterday’s announcement, the ties that the Royal Scots have enjoyed with Edinburgh for 380 years have all but disappeared. The previous changes – losing their status as an independent regiment and then as an independent battalion – were largely symbolic. Moving their base away from their traditional home will cause great disruption and real distress to hundreds of families.
It is a poor return for the commitment which Edinburgh has shown to the army for so many generations.
Port’s ship comes in
LEITH may not be top of the to-do list for tourists arriving in Edinburgh for the first time. But it is, albeit briefly, the first taste of the Capital for thousands of cruise ship passengers. Today we report on a new campaign to encourage those tourists to spend a bit more time exploring Edinburgh’s shore instead of heading straight on to the Castle and beyond.
It is a hard sell for tour companies with tight schedules but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try. Leith has much going for it – where else will you find two Michelin-star restaurants within walking distance of a cruise liner terminal, for instance?
And while this bid may be unlikely to tempt many out of the tour bus initially, it does help to build a brand and perhaps encourage future visits.
Good luck to those involved in standing up for Leith and helping to ensure it does not miss the boat.