‘Ripple effect of losses makes talks essential’

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First Scotland East’s decision to axe more than a dozen routes in Mid and East Lothian and shed up to 200 jobs is a social and economic hammer blow to tens of thousands of families in the region.

These routes are front-line services that are vital in transporting people to and from work and to visit friends and family.

In some cases alternatives options will be available with Lothian Buses, but for others the change will mean longer waits and even some communities losing their public transport link all together.

All this against a backdrop of government initiatives which tell us that public transport is best.

The huge ripple effect of 200 job losses during an economic downturn and the social cost of reduced mobility makes the talks between Transport Minister Keith Brown, First Group and Lothian Buses vital.

It is essential that these talks are successful, and that at least some of the routes are protected or taken over by other operators.

The SNP government will itself come under pressure to explain its role in the axing of routes.

While it blamed the current economic climate and higher fuel costs, First Group was also quick to mention the reduction in the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, paid to bus firms to help them keep fares down, and enabling operators to run services that might not otherwise be commercially viable.

The SNP, of course, will blame the UK Government for failing to curb the rising price of fuel.

Either way, with the council elections looming on May 3, the political blame game is sure to escalate over public transport services.

However, the only thing that matters for the people of Edinburgh and Mid and East Lothian is: will we get our buses back?

Risky business

If THERE is one thing Edinburgh is not short of it’s historic buildings.

It is easy to forget, as we go about our daily lives, that we are surrounded by some incredible architecture, which has made the Capital world famous.

Today’s news that about 40 more buildings, including the iconic Donaldson’s College, are being officially classed as “at risk” should be concerning to everyone.

But it is also reassuring to know that our built heritage is being constantly monitored to ensure these wonderful buildings survive for future generations to enjoy.

Edinburgh may not be short of historic sights but we don’t want to lose any either.