Comment: We need to be nimble to still thrive
It will take some time before we fully understand the implications of Thursday’s vote for the future of Edinburgh.
Some are immediate and obvious. There will be no influx of new embassies or civil servants, while the uncertainty surrounding the banks and future investment in the Capital will evaporate.
But the effects will be many and varied, some will be subtle and take time to come to the fore.
David Cameron’s pledge outside Downing Street of new powers for Scotland, for instance, carries potential risks, as well as likely gains, for Edinburgh.
It is clear that they will only come hand-in-hand with devolution of power to the other nations of the UK. The talk already is of the rise of the English city regions. Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham may be handed extra borrowing powers, for example, allowing them to compete more effectively with Edinburgh, challenging our efforts to attract tourists, conferences and investment.
These cities could conceivably boost their own arts festivals or team up with their local universities to attract further funding.
None of this is clear yet, but the potential new competition – and the risks to our future economy – are clear. We will need to be nimble and well-resourced to continue to thrive in this brave new world.
One of the positives we can draw from the referendum result is that doubts over whether the £850 million revamp of the St James Centre will go ahead have now gone.
That development – the biggest in the Capital for a generation – was only secured after the welcome intervention of the Scottish Government, which gave the city permission to borrow kick-start funding after months of lobbying.
If the city was free to take such decisions on its own, imagine how much more it could achieve. Or what it could do with just a fraction of the extra funding that Glasgow secured for major infrastructure improvements.
The Capital is well placed to prosper but it too needs new powers to continue to thrive.