If you want to see one of the proofs of why Edinburgh has been going so fundamentally wrong in recent years then all you have to do is look downwards as you walk through the city.
The very pavements that we walk on are a disgrace in many parts of Edinburgh. Whether it’s tram works spreading their devastation sideways or the utility companies smashing up pavement slabs and not replacing them properly, or stones that have cracked after a freezing winter – and we have had plenty of those recently – there are entire streets where you really want to avoid the pavements.
You see plenty people doing just that – they are happier to walk on the road surface and risk annihilation from buses or cars rather than jeopardise their feet and ankles on the crazy paving that passes for the supposedly safer pedestrian route.
I see the pavements as something of a metaphor for the Capital at this time. Everybody is too busy being defensive about problems to actually do something positive to solve them, and fear of busting the budget has the city fathers and mothers in a tizzy.
There’s no-one saying ‘this is a problem’ even though it demonstrably is, and that, too, is indicative of a climate of something approaching fear or, worse still, apathy about our surroundings.
It’s as if the hellish roadworks of recent times have bulldozed the citizenry into a catatonic state. Everywhere we turn there’s another great hole in the road, so why bother about a few cracks in the pavements?
Because they are dangerous, that’s why. I wonder if statistics exist to show how many people have had to be treated in hospital because they were injured in a fall on our decrepit and dilapidated pavements.
Just letting the pavements fester and crack up is a false economy, because plenty people are now catching on to the fact that if you trip and hurt yourself on a cracked pavement, and if you had been taking reasonable care of yourself – ie you were sober – then you can in all probability sue the council for compensation.
Indeed, there are solicitors who advertise their skills in doing just that for you
About the only positive note that can be observed is that, thankfully, a lot of dog owners seem to have got the message about cleaning up their pet’s mess, and there’s a lot less dog poo around than, say, 20 years ago when it was a serious health problem in the city.
There’s still far too many people, however, who drop chewing gum on our pavements which in some areas have surfaces that look like spotted dogs.
My advice to local people is not to walk on the road, but to complain like hell to the council which has the responsibility for maintaining nearly every pavement in Edinburgh.
Only public pressure will make councillors react to the problem, although it would be good if, for once, they did something before a problem became a crisis.
Edinburgh has always been unfairly tagged as a ‘fur coat and no knickers’ sort of city, meaning the Capital put on a good face but was bereft underneath.
Pretty soon it will change and will be known as the city of smart trams but tatty pavements.
Concrete boxes are not so clever
Passing through Fountainbridge the other day I was more than a little appalled to see the design of some new buildings across the road from the Fountain Park leisure complex.
Not to put too fine a point on it, the Bainfield buildings for student accommodation look dreadful, a modern architectural carbuncle of the kind Prince Charles rightly condemns.
I’m not unhappy about the Springside flats which are perfectly sound, and I’m a fan of nearby Edinburgh Quay, but Bainfield’s concrete boxes are so out of character for the area that you have to ask why they were allowed.
Dalkeith trams plan has got to be a bad dream
Mention of the trams brings me to the best joke of the week – the suggestion that the council is seriously contemplating extending the tram network to Dalkeith.
Perhaps we have all been living through a nightmare in the last few years and we’ll be like television’s Bobby Ewing, pictured, in Dallas a couple of decades ago who was not really dead because his wife dreamed it all.
That’s it – all those holes in the roads have just been a bad dream and we’ll wake up soon to find that we have a brilliant new efficient and cheap tram network that didn’t cost the city a penny.
Get real, councillors. Finish the little stump of a network we have and don’t even think about extending it.
Alex will always be a hit with me
Alex Arthur MBE tells me he will make a formal announcement on his future next month and I expect him to hang up his gloves. If he is indeed to retire, then let me be the first to say he has been a credit to the city and his sport.