‘New leaders need chance to put it right’

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Tram chaos. Fraud and corruption charges. More tram chaos. Huge pay-offs for tram directors. There have been enough negative headlines surrounding Edinburgh City Council in the last few years to last a lifetime.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the average council taxpayer believes the whole administration to be a useless chamber of incompetents. It will simply confirm the worst prejudices of many people.

Yes, there have been mistakes. Big mistakes. Costly mistakes. Historic mistakes.

But the new Labour-SNP administration led by Andrew Burns must be given credit for supporting the investigation into statutory notices and for keeping the tram project on the rails.

Most of the public will not distinguish between the old and new administrations, but the new intake of councillors must be given a chance to put this right.

The last five years has been a PR disaster for Edinburgh and for the City Chambers. It is hard to find anyone with a good word to say about the council.

But the vast majority of council employees are decent, honest people. The vast majority of councillors – who are hardly paid a stellar wage – have a strong sense of civic duty.

There will be many more negative headlines to emerge from both of these stories in the coming months.

But provided the new administration pushes ahead with its own programme of change and continues to be transparent and honest about the mistakes of the past, then Edinburgh’s reputation can be restored.

Soft-touch justice

THERE is an all too familiar ring to today’s story of three youths who caused mayhem on the streets of Edinburgh by racing around the city at speeds of up to 100mph.

Two of them had been released early from previous sentences and the other was on a community payback order when he committed his latest crime. One of the three had been part of the gang that attacked takeaway driver Simon San on the night he died. Another has so many previous convictions they cover four pages.

Who would bet that any of them will serve the full term of the sentences which they are starting today? Is it any wonder that Scottish justice has earned a reputation as a soft touch?

You only need to look elsewhere on this page for evidence that fines are enforced with as little rigour as prison sentences.

The SNP government must honour its pledge to review both these scandals before public confidence in our justice system can be restored.