Leaders: ‘They must not pass on financial pain’

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WITH the price of everything from petrol to a Lottery ticket shooting up, most of us are desperate for a break from the soaring cost of living.

The city budget approved yesterday has only brought more bad news – although it could have been a lot worse.

Inflation-busting rises are on the way for residents’ parking permits, city centre car parking, burial and registrar’s fees, and allotment rents – not to mention the new 30p charge for using public toilets in the city centre. Of course, none of these will break the bank on their own, but they are more of those extra costs that eat away at our pay packets and pensions.

This newspaper has already questioned whether the toilet charges are 10p too much. There will be similar concerns about the cost of parking in the city centre hitting £3 an hour. By charging so much, are we simply encouraging people to use out-of-town shopping centres, at a time when traders need all the support they can get?

Perhaps the most worrying thing about these rises is that they have come in a relatively easy year financially for the city. The local authority is making savings of less than £4 million, compared with more than £90m over the following four years.

The big temptation for the city – especially if the SNP’s popular council tax freeze continues – will be to hike up these kind of charges again.

But councillors must not pass on any more of their financial pain to hard-pressed householders than is absolutely essential. Before they bump up prices, they need to redouble their efforts to make efficiency savings. Are all council departments working as closely together and as effectively as they can? We doubt that is true right across the board.

Those savings must come first before we are hit in the pocket again.

Trench warfare

THE battle to save Edinburgh’s First World War training trenches has really stepped up a gear.

Experts are now on the ground at Dreghorn Woods surveying the condition of the site and investigating their archaeological significance.

It is a milestone in the Evening News-backed campaign to preserve the trenches before they disappear forever.

Along with the tireless campaigning of Lynne Gladstone-Millar, credit is due to both the MoD and the city council for their support.

Let us hope the work under way today allows the restoration to take place as soon as possible, and this historic site can live on as an inspiring memorial for future generations.