‘The case for a bed tax gets stronger . . .’

it will please many people in Edinburgh – and especially those with families – to hear that efforts are being made to save the city’s traditional Christmas ice rink.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 25th October 2011, 12:57 pm

For 13 years the “pop-up” attraction in Princes Street Gardens has been part and parcel of the festive experience for thousands of locals and visitors alike.

That’s why the News received many worried comments when we revealed last week that private operator AJA Events had doubts about the future of the rink after losses of around £60,000 last year.

With £200,000 already written off by the council in connection with previous years’ ice rinks, it looked like the attraction might be frozen out for good.

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That would be a shame, given that as many as 50,000 people a year have enjoyed skating in the past – although last winter’s numbers were hit – ironically – by the big freeze.

Our usual starting point in trying to find a solution would be to suggest that users pay more by bumping up the entry prices. But at nearly £10 for an adult and £30 for a family of four, there’s little scope for that. If anything, prices need to come down to make the fun more accessible.

So should the council step in? With some way still to go to fill the city’s £97m budget black hole, this would have to be a final straw – and one grasped only because it made a net gain for the local economy.

We suspect saving the ice rink would offer just such a net gain, which is why we hope local hotels and others in the pub, cafe and restaurant trades will see the benefit in chipping in some money.

For it is vital that the Capital retains a diverse range of attractions all year round, and something which isn’t about carousing at Christmas and New Year must be part of the mix. The case for a hotel bed tax gets stronger and stronger . . .

A true lifesaver

Our story of how organ donor Grant McCabe helped save six people should inspire everyone who reads it.

Yet, despite such altruistic individuals, Scotland – and the rest of the UK – still has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe.

There were only 67 organ donors north of the Border last year, sparking calls for radical action to encourage more to sign up, such as the NHS paying donors’ funeral costs.

It’s an emotional issue, but it would be better to follow Spain, where an “opt-out” system of presumed consent is three times more effective than our donor card scheme. That has the potential to save hundreds more lives each year.