Comment: Football clubs add considerably to city economy

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Edinburgh’s poor parking attendants know a thing or two about being unpopular.

At least they will be able to sympathise with their council bosses when they face the music over their latest cash-saving idea.

Charging the organisers of major events for the cost of sending parking attendants to patrol the streets around them is likely to prove one of their least popular to date.

The city, of course, has an extremely difficult job to do in saving millions of pounds from their budget. Everyone knows that some tough decisions need to be made.

But the idea of levying these fees on a charity, like the Moonwalk, will sit uncomfortably with many, and the council will have a tough job persuading the city’s sporting institutions that it is fair.

For a start, this will mean Hibs and Hearts paying for something that will inevitably be raising money for the council. Every time parking attendants dish out a fine outside Easter Road or Tynecastle on match days, the city will collect at least £30. That, over the course of a season, will no doubt add up to a tidy sum. But none of that money will, presumably, be passed back to Hibs or Hearts.

That is not a niggardly point. Don’t forget, all this is a two-way street. The city’s football clubs may depend on public services, but they also add considerable amounts to the city economy.

The other major problem with these new charges is the lack of transparency. There are no guarantees for the organisations paying the charges on where their money is actually going.

This is where ring-fencing of funds can be very helpful. People are usually more willing to pay up if they can see that their contribution is making a difference.

Otherwise it looks like all the new fees are being sucked up into one big pot to cover the city’s funding blackhole. Those that are paying the fees feel as though they are simply being forced to pay for the mistakes of the past, particularly over-spending on the trams.