‘City has been forced into these measures’

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NEW charges for public toilets? A rise in parking fees? Raising entrance prices for the Scott Monument?

And a new events levy that would see the council recoup a greater amount of the money they pay out for organising road closures?

These are just some of the ideas being considered by Edinburgh City Council as the administration moves towards finalising its 2013-14 budget in February.

The council will be kicked all over the City Chambers for these proposals by opposition councillors and by a weary public. However, it has been forced to consider such measures as the amount of money it receives from the Scottish Government is reducing year after year. The budget shortfall for 2013-14 will be £10.8 million, rising to £95 million by 2017-18. Add in the fact that the council has its own spending priorities (such as the living wage) and the challenge of balancing the budget becomes ever greater.

So, a degree of sympathy for the Labour-SNP administration led by Andrew Burns is in order.

Many will say if we hadn’t pushed ahead with the trams everything would be OK. But we have the trams, and we have to make the best of it.

The other key point is the council’s budget has typically been presented to opposition councillors just minutes before the February meeting. This gives elected members little time to scrutinise the figures and does little to encourage proper debate.

Our new council has opted to produce a political budget in November, giving almost three months for stakeholders and the public to make representations and push for alternatives. The result – provided the ruling group do listen – has to be a more transparent process and a stronger budget for the coming year.

Star turn

Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan is in danger of being overtaken as Edinburgh’s most easily recognised modern drama school graduate.

Former Queen Margaret University student Roddy Walker is now travelling the world as a result of his new career as a Prince Harry look-alike.

Rather like the prince himself, Roddy was born to the role, rather than having to wow judges at an audition.

But who can blame him for making the most of his looks and the chance that life has thrown at him?

He is clearly having a ball – and if anyone is going to really appreciate that then it is surely fun-loving Prince Harry.