Brian Monteith: Farewell Auld Reekie, howdy Disneyland Edinburgh

YEP, that's the way we are tumbling headlong as our council seeks to turn our city centre into a living heritage theme park without a heart.

Friday, 10th June 2016, 9:31 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:27 pm
File picture: Greg Macvean

The latest wheeze is to introduce parking charges for Sundays, although not right away, but in 2018! Why so long? That’s so we don’t feel the pain now and take retribution out on the councillors that advocated it when next year’s elections come around. The trick is to be re-elected in 2017 and then bring it in the year after saying it is already in the council’s budgets. To change anything will then require cuts in services for it to happen. Crafty, eh?

Edinburgh will die as a living, breathing city from death by a thousand ligatures – those regulations that the council dreams up. The city will turn into nothing other than a world heritage centre in aspic, rather like the walled city of Carcassonne in France. The Sound of Music curse is already doing the same to Salzburg in Austria.

We will have the Castle, the Royal Mile, the palace, the fine buildings, the galleries, restaurants and bars, the theatres – and even the miniature railway going out to the airport. The city will itself become a superannuated museum. We may even have a few shops left but Edinburgh will change to become unrecognisable from what I was brought up in and what most readers will remember.

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Families will be able to land at the airport and come into Caledonia’s capital with its baronial turrets and crow-stepped gables with the occasional steam train chuntering out of Waverley, although we’ll have more hogweed than Hogwarts.

There will be tartanalia like you can’t imagine, making the White Heather Club look restrained. There will be people walking about with woad on their faces and scary ghost tours from out-of-work actors taking victims up closes and down pends.

But wait, you say, Edinburgh is already like this, and in some respects you would be right. There is a difference, though – ours is still a city where real people live and work in its centre, where shops sell to the mass public rather than just tourists, where businesses are located and companies are founded and thrive. It is a place for the people of Edinburgh to come, although over the years that has become more and more expensive to do – unless it’s for a hen or stag night or a one-off sojourn whilst rubbing shoulders with the lovely foreigners whom we are delighted have visited us.

My point is that we need both lifestyles for the city to thrive. For tourists to experience the real Edinburgh they need to meet real people living and working in the city. Our city centre retailers are up against the cosh – their biggest competition is not from the out-of-centre shopping malls, where we are gravitating towards already, but from online shopping. By introducing Sunday parking charges the council is discouraging the locals from coming to the city centre on our day off.

Only retailers that cater for tourists will survive, we will all shop where our cars can take us. Those that don’t have cars will find it easier to get the bus to the Gyle, Ocean Terminal or Fort Kinnaird, than face the bustle of a declining city centre where there are more beggars on the streets than police officers.

Instead of charging for parking we should be looking to attract cars into the city – after all, they’ll soon all be electric and it’s meant to be only 20mph anyway.

Edinburgh – the city that hates car drivers. That might not be a winning advertising slogan – but it just happens to be the truth.

Let’s give great drain robbery a miss

The most difficult part of my weekly column has become deciding just who has been the biggest European Union scaremonger of the week.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor deserve a medal for consistent alarmism that has left them beyond ridicule, but this week I give my raspberry to a local, Mr Henry Philip, who sent a missive to the letters page telling us how the city and the university have benefited from the EU’s munificent funding.

Unfortunately, the truth is rather different. Imagine I offered you a tenner on the condition you gave me a 20 first. Would you consider that a deal? The EU has no money. Period. None. Zilch. It takes our money and gives us half of it back.

I call that robbery and without it we can only prosper.

Julian’s police treatment is an unfair cop

Julian Spalding has every right to feel mistreated for being asked if was born in Scotland after filing a complaint about a noisy busker to a police officers.

The police response that they were only following procedures is no excuse. At the very least it means the procedures are wrong.

In our politically correct times would they have asked Mr Spalding that question if he was coloured?

Everyone should be treated the same, including white middle-aged blokes.

Building woe is a bridge too far

So the new Forth crossing is going to be delayed. Apparently the bad weather of April and May led to a loss of 25 days of work.

According to the contractor’s statement, they had allowed for 25 per cent downtime but it was 40 per cent, which is nine more lost days than they had allowed for.

So it won’t be ready by Christmas, but a full five months later in May 2017. And 2017’s not even a leap year!

There’s something not right about this and it could be about to ruin the Economy Secretary’s career.