Looking back at 2013: Christmas discontent

Edinburgh's Christmas. Picture: Phill Wilkinson
Edinburgh's Christmas. Picture: Phill Wilkinson
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Complaints mount over the cost of Edinburgh’s Christmas, Sunshine on Leith opens to critical acclaim, Pat Fenlon departs Hibs and the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela.


Edinburgh’s former Tory leader Jeremy Balfour was in hot water after being caught playing solitaire – or was it patience? – on his taxpayer-funded iPad during a petitions committee meeting. He couldn’t really mount a defence, as the whole thing was broadcast on the city council’s website.

Better news for those in power at the City Chambers came when it was announced Edinburgh had been chosen as the home for the new National Performance Centre for Sport. The city beat off the challenge of Stirling and Dundee to win the race.

Four keen gardeners were left seriously ill in hospital after contracting the legionella bug linked to compost. Health chiefs insisted the risk was low but that proper hand washing was key.

We revealed the tram fare to the airport would be £7.50 – that’s more than the bus (which is also faster on paper).

The film version of Sunshine on Leith opened to critical acclaim, and the film, described as a love letter to Edinburgh, certainly showed the Capital at its best.

Blockbuster computer game Grand Theft Auto V hit the shelves. The game – developed by Edinburgh’s own Rockstar North – quickly broke sales records around the world.

Any moves by Police Scotland to crackdown on outdoor drinking were swiftly repelled by city leader Andrew Burns as the Evening News gave him a Braveheart makeover for a memorable front page.

Also this month, Gary McCourt again walked free from court after appeal judges upheld the original community sentence over the death of elderly cyclist Audrey Fyfe. Campaigners were furious.


Save Our Stations! The Evening News launched the fightback against the Police Scotland planned cutbacks of station counters across Edinburgh and the Lothians. We told how 100,000 people used the counters in line for the axe every year.

Good news for the property market as we revealed how house sales had hit a six-year high in Edinburgh.

Testing of the tram got underway (very slowly and surrounded by engineers) on sections at South Gyle. It wasn’t all good news though as we reported how cracks had already been found on some of the new track.

A series of cycle accidents on the Haymarket tram tracks brought a safety campaign. The Evening News highlighted several accidents complete with dramatic video footage.

Greyfriars Kirk held a service with a difference as it welcomed pets of all shapes and sizes for a special 
blessing. Greyfriars Bobby meanwhile underwent a nose job to correct damage caused by people rubbing it for good luck.

The work to turn his shiny nose back to its original black, however, didn’t last long. Less than 48 hours later, it was shining again.

It was finally confirmed that we would not be hearing the pitter patter of panda paws this year as Tian Tian was not pregnant.

The sauna row was still rumbling on. The city council defied Police Scotland and allowed seven premises to continue trading.

Meanwhile, we revealed how call girls had begun operating in a flat just yards from one of the city’s 
busiest police stations.


M&S had its knickers in a twist at the start of the month over a planned new Primark store the Gyle. The retail giant was believed to be looking at ways to block the opening of the cut-price rival.

Pat Fenlon departed Hibs to be replaced (eventually) by Terry Butcher. The Evening News immediately tipped the Englishman to take over but it would be some time before the move was ironed out.

The grave of one of Edinburgh’s greatest heroines – Elsie Inglis – was revealed to be in a sorry state with the inscription barely visible. The Evening News highlighted the issue and it was fixed.

We saw a mounting campaign to bring the mothballed destroyer HMS Edinburgh to the city as a tourist attraction. How much would an ex-warship cost? Around £2 million apparently.

Are the trams finally gaining in popularity? We revealed 550 people had applied to become modern-day clippies on the new line.

Twelve-year-old Saskia Eng won the Edinburgh Has Talent final – remember the name, you’ll be hearing a lot more about her.

Edinburgh’s long-awaited Apple store was said to have been delayed. It is now expected to open next July at the east end of Princes Street.

What to do while you wait? Have an ice cream at the new Nardini’s.

Drama on the A8 as shots were fired at a house leading to the main road to the airport closing, causing chaos.

A tragic crash near Dunbar claimed the lives of three teenage friends. Josh Stewart, David Armstrong and Jenna Barbour all died when the car they were travelling in left the road and hit a wall.


Almost exactly 57 years after the last tram ran on Princes Street, one of the new vehicles trundled onto the street late on December 4. And 50 years after first developing his famous physics theory, Professor Peter Higgs collected the Nobel Prize.

Winter arrived and storms caused chaos which one van driver won’t forget in a hurry. He had to abandon his vehicle on the Forth Bridge as it was tipped onto its side.

It may be the season of goodwill to all men and women but there was precious little among visitors to Edinburgh’s Christmas when they discovered the prices of some of the 

Run for the first year by Underbelly, the complaints mounted about the cost culminating in a row about critical comments being hidden from the festival’s Facebook site. With the problems of the Star Flyer ride and Santas quitting the grotto, it all added up for a less than cheery festive season for some.

Of course, this month also saw the Capital join the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95.

A freeman of the city, there are now calls to rename Festival Square in his honour.