City pitches for extra cash to revamp Ross Bandstand

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CITY leaders have asked the Scottish Government to fund a series of major projects to kick-start development, including a £5 million redevelopment of the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens.

Ministers have been urged to release extra cash handed over by the UK Government to pay for so-called “shovel-ready projects” to help the construction industry and local authorities facing tough budget cuts.

The city council has earmarked several sizeable schemes which also include new state-of-the-art gymnasiums for three primary schools costing £3m.

Chief executive Sue Bruce and Labour council leader Andrew Burns have written to ministers asking them to fund pedestrian improvements to Charlotte Square and enhancements to Waverley Bridge.

All of the eight projects were intended to go ahead at some stage in the future, but the extra cash would allow construction to get under way as soon as April, which would provide work at a time when building firms in particular are struggling.

Also included in the eight is safety improvements to Lower Granton Road, which runs along the coast, and improvements to street lighting in Rose Street.

Ms Bruce and Cllr Burns wrote: “All of these potential capital projects represent an opportunity to put money into the economy and the majority provide additional benefits beyond this in relation to the potential to increase the attractiveness of the city, to provide enhanced facilities for cultural activities in the city, to improve community assets or to improve the basic infrastructure in our city and make it more sustainable.”

The Scottish Government has been handed £331m extra as a result of the Chancellor’s autumn statement. Ministers themselves had earmarked £800m of schemes such as masterplanning the Port of Leith to become a renewable energy hub, but councils across Scotland were also each asked to create a wish list of projects.

In Midlothian, the Roslin International Centre for Livestock Improvement is also already in the Scottish Government’s own list for national developments.

Sources at the city council said they realistically expect to be given a few million pounds once cash had been divided between 32 local authorities, but hoped for more due to the status as the capital city.

Steve Burgess, the Edinburgh Greens convener, said the city had to be more ambitious and suggested that more work on roads and pavements, along with investment in energy efficiency, would be more beneficial. He said: “The city needs investment in infrastructure but we need the right kind of investment. I am sure Edinburgh can come up with a more compelling list.”