‘Tough action to nip it in bud is welcome’

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if anyone wondered if the police and others were taking football-related crime seriously then they can be in no doubt now.

Yesterday, 11 suspects were rounded-up in a serious of dramatic early-morning raids in the city more commonly associated with drug busts.

A small army of 50 local cops took part in the operation, and their efforts could lead to several court appearances over the coming weeks and months.

Some, in fact, may wonder if the various efforts to tackle football casuals and related racism and sectarianism are worth it, just to stop different groups of daft lads shouting abuse at each other.

But that sort of attitude fails to appreciate the impact on wider society of football thugs.

Take the trouble after August’s friendly match between Hibs and Sunderland. Violence erupted not at the ground but along Easter Road, and the News heard many accounts of innocent passers-by left in terror by the incident.

Even if you take actual violence out of the equation, as a society we should not have to put up with racism or sectarianism – which, after last season’s problems, the Scottish Government has rightly prioritised.

It may be tempting to dismiss casuals as “football’s problem”, but they affect us all. Anyone who remembers the widespread problems of the 1970s and 1980s should welcome any tough action that helps nip it in the bud this time around.

Leisure charges

in a time of economic struggle, both for Edinburgh Leisure and its customers, the latest plan to attract more members makes a lot of sense.

Rather than paying a set monthly rate to go into any of the city’s gyms and swimming pools, users would be able to pay a smaller rate for access to specific facilities. The controversial part is that it would cost less for entry at locations in poorer areas and more in leafier spots.

But the plan is more than just an acceptance that Edinburgh Leisure needs to find innovative ways to plug its £1 million funding gap.

It also answers – finally – criticism that £44.50 a month for fitness membership and £27 for swimming is simply too much to expect a lot of people to pay. The fact that private gyms and pools charge such fees is no excuse – the city’s facilities are supposed to be accessible to all.

Where the comparison with the private sector does work is in the differential rates idea. Just as private gyms can charge more in affluent areas, so public facilities should charge less in poor areas – and that should encourage participation.