‘Should the government be stepping in?’

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IF his daily duties protecting the Edinburgh public were not proof enough, then there is certainly no questioning Steve Livingstone’s courage now.

At the age of 41 and with no previous boxing experience, the Lothian and Borders police officer has volunteered to step into the ring with former world heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon.

He is certainly brave – but is he too brave for his own good?

That is the question raised by Amateur Boxing Scotland’s objection to the pair going toe to toe in the Capital in the name of charity.

Neither man would be likely to be granted a licence for an officially regulated bout due to their age.

And, like other “white-collar” or unlicensed boxing matches, there is no obligation on the organisers to take precautions such as having a doctor and anaesthetist at ringside and an ambulance on stand-by throughout.

With so many Lothian and Borders police officers involved, next month’s event at the Corn Exchange is bound to be well organised, with sensible checks and controls. There is no question that it must be allowed to go ahead.

As to the wider question of unlicensed boxing, there are clearly significant risks involved, but should the government be stepping in to protect these “Friday night fighters” from themselves?

The better question is, if it did, where would it all end? With licences required for rugby matches in an effort to make that sport “safe” as well?

Give it a chance

it is easy to understand the cynicism that the council’s efforts to recruit volunteers to help clean-up parts of the Capital attract.

After all, traders in the Royal Mile, where a spring cleans involving residents and businesses is under way, pay sky-high rates to the local authority and expect basic jobs like keeping the streets looking decent to be carried out.

No-one can blame any of the hard-pressed rate and council tax payers who felt they simply could not spare the time to pull on rubber gloves and join the council workmen cleaning the street.

But it is too easy to dismiss the idea as a mere PR stunt. Challenging the idea that everything is the responsibility of the council is worthwhile in itself. Every volunteer who got their hands dirty yesterday deserves a big thank you, not just for helping give the Royal Mile back a bit of its shine, but for restoring our faith in the idea of community spirit.