IS Edinburgh a “once great city now in abject decline?” By any reasonable measure the words from Professor Richard Williams are nonsense.
Scotland’s capital is one of the world’s leading visitor destinations, it has the best arts festival on the planet and remains near the top of the charts for quality of life. It is little wonder, therefore, that the city has an expanding population and thousands of students are desperate to come here each year to study.
However, Prof Williams’s words will resonate with many people in the city as Edinburgh does have a crisis in confidence.
Jump in a taxi from the city’s airport and you are sure to hear tales of council mismanagement, potholes, roadworks and, of course, the misery of the trams. Delve further and the driver will likely fill you in on the decrepit state of Princes Street, which successive administrations have failed to solve.
This matters because it is how many ordinary residents of Edinburgh actually feel. They have lost some pride in their city. There is a feeling of ‘we cannae do anything right’. Even RBS and Bank of Scotland came a cropper in the financial crisis.
But this isn’t the fault of residents. Instead it has been down to a lack of leadership in recent years.
Edinburgh needs a leader who can crack heads together, present a vision of the future, and get us all believing that things are good right now and will get ever better.
The current administration is doing a good task of balancing priorities with a dwindling budget. But the city also needs to communicate longer term strategies.
And we also need someone to pat us on the back and tell us we’re not that bad.
The Berlin call
Today’s announcement of water features being installed at 40 city nurseries may provoke questions over the priorities of our city leaders.
Do we really need to be spending £68,000 on such a scheme in austere times and was it really necessary to send officials to Berlin to come up with the idea?
The fact is, investing in children’s development is about as important as it gets and improving nursery facilities is a key part of this.
It’s great to see our education officials are introducing measures aimed at encouraging outdoor play, and it’s only right we should take our lead from the best as we encourage active lifestyles in the young.
Hopefully it will mean “Ich bin ein Berliner” – a doughnut that is – will not be true of future generations.