Tree protest is food for thought

A man has spent 24 hours up a tree during a protest against plans for a �65m hotel in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. Picture: BBC
A man has spent 24 hours up a tree during a protest against plans for a �65m hotel in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. Picture: BBC
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it is an unorthodox way of making your point, spending a week 20 feet up a tree in the centre of Edinburgh.

But it would be hard to argue that the one-man protest in the Old Town has been ineffective. Whatever the result of the bid to evict him - and the smart money here has to be on the developers - the campaign against the “gentrification” of the Old Town is being debated again. Edinburgh is changing fast, the city centre in particular, and there is understandable unease about what it will all mean.

It is perhaps ironic that the most high-profile protest centres on a development that will bring clear benefits to the neighbourhood. Part of the site has lain empty for a decade and few would wander down the alleys there even during daylight hours. The hotel will restore the grade A listed India Buildings, create up to 650 jobs and bring more visitors to the Grassmarket area which struggles to draw tourists - other than stag and hen dos - away from the Royal Mile.

What will strike a chord with many is the broader idea that the city centre increasingly caters for tourists - a good thing, surely, given the local jobs that supports - but not so well for its own residents.

That is a tricky balance, but one the city needs to get right.