‘Voluntary fee could be the answer’

CONCERNS about the future care and protection of the Pentland Hills will always ring alarm bells across the Lothians and much further afield.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 11th April 2012, 1:01 pm

The scrapping of the independent team of rangers which looks after the park does appear on the surface to be a backward step.

It is questionable whether a team based in Edinburgh with other responsibilities across the Capital, no matter how large that team, can match the job done by the current rangers stationed in the park itself.

But we have to be realistic about what we expect our cash-strapped local authorities to do when it comes to maintaining the park.

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Can we really justify spending tens of thousands of pounds more on protecting a dedicated team there at a time when teachers face losing their jobs and other vital services are facing budget cuts?

The regional park team that currently manages the Pentlands has faced financial uncertainty for what seems like most of its 28-year life.

If this new regime puts the future management of the park on a sound financial footing then that is a positive result we should not take for granted.

However, should the standards of care fall dramatically under the new system, there is another option, of course.

A £2 daily parking fee was the first solution put forward to tackle the park’s funding shortfall.

That has unproved unworkable, largely due to the fact that enforcing it will swallow up so much of the £36,000 a year that it might raise.

But the idea of charging should not be abandoned completely.

If extra funding is truly vital, then perhaps a voluntary scheme could provide the answer.

An “entry fee” that visitors can pay at their discretion works well at many “free” attractions.

Surely many visitors would be willing to make a modest contribution if the need for it were clearly explained.

Success in store

Congratulations to shop owners Linda and Dennis Williams who have scooped yet more awards for their store in Oxgangs.

The key to success is knowing their customers, meeting their needs and distinctive personal service.

While most of us enjoy the convenience of shopping in large supermarkets, nothing beats a family-owned business at the heart of a community where the staff know your name. The team’s 30 awards in three years are testament to that.

The Broadway Convenience Store is truly a community champion.