Leaders: ‘Edinburgh should be a city for all’

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For decades, Edinburgh’s Grassmarket has been synonymous with student nightlife and has boasted some of the best and liveliest bars in the city.

The area, of course, is home to more than pubs and clubs. There are restaurants, craft shops, hotels and, importantly, residents who live and work in the quarter.

Now as businesses begin voting on the introduction of a Business Improvement District (BID) for the Greater Grassmarket area, some traders have called for a ban on stag and hen parties.

This is essentially a rebranding exercise. By seeking to eliminate one class of clientele, the hope is that another will find the area more attractive. However, a few points of caution.

Edinburgh is a sizeable city and should be large enough to accommodate all kinds of customer. The negative press surrounding stags is understandable, but many who travel on these celebrations have a great time without ever causing disruption - should they feel excluded? Stag and hen parties also help lift hotel occupancy - often during quieter months - and bring in valuable income year-round.

We also need to be mindful that many people who travel on such occasions are coming here for the first time. The allure of Scotland’s capital is quick to grab hold of most. The result is often repeat visits later in life. We should be careful about telling young people Edinburgh is not for them.

Parkies’ life

Plans to recruit a volunteer army to keep an eye on the city’s parks is an interesting idea, and anything which encourages people to take pride in their community is to be encouraged.

Whether it will work in practice remains to be seen. The city points to a lack of resources to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour, which it says is a key gripe of residents. The hope is that a new warden in council livery will be enough to discourage such activity before it happens.

That may be true in some parks, but how about in areas where where antisocial behaviour is more than an illegal barbecue? Would a yobs really be convinced to change their course of action by someone who has no authority? The so-called snoopers could end up working well in certain places, but they must not simply become parkies on the cheap.