Eight reasons why 2020 is going to be an ‘interesting’ year for Edinburgh – John McLellan

Next year will involve some momentous decisions affecting Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK. John McLellan takes a look at some of the biggest.

Thursday, 26th December 2019, 11:40 am
We've not yet heard from the Hardie Inquiry, but tram works have started in Leith. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

While the SNP isn’t seriously preparing for a second independence referendum next year, there will be no shortage of other events in 2020 which could shape the political weather both locally and nationally. Here’s just a few, with a rammy rating out of ten:

January: Scottish Government ministers are due to receive the report from the planning inquiry into the rejection of the application to turn the old Royal High School into a hotel. Even if the report recommends approval, there is no guarantee Planning Minister Kevin Stewart will go along with it. 2/10 if rejected, 9/10 if approved.

January 31: The UK will leave the European Union and negotiations on the new trade deal will need to be completed by the end of the year under the new Withdrawal Bill which won approval in the House of Commons last week. 3/10, rising to 10/10 by December.

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February: Edinburgh Council is due to receive an internal report into how Underbelly was able to proceed with its massive Christmas Market construction without planning permission when it was known for two years that the Galleries work in Princes Street Gardens would create difficulties. Will it now include how Underbelly was able to control access to residents’ homes in the event area? 8/10

March: A court will decide whether Edinburgh Council should release an uncensored report into the long-running Cameron House lifelong learning controversy involving allegations of misuse of public funds, claims of a harassment campaign against whistle-blowers, and the location of hundreds of emails. 8/10

March: The Alex Salmond trial, set to last six weeks. No comment. A rating is currently not available for legal reasons.

August: Edinburgh’s proposed City Plan 2030 will be published and presented to the planning committee. The document will lay out the proposals for building and development for the next ten years, but with more consultation and debate to go it will be 18 months before the plan is finalised. 7/10

October: The new St James Centre is due to open, transforming Edinburgh city centre. 2/10

Anytime, who knows: There is still no sign that the Hardie Inquiry into the Edinburgh tram scandal is ready to report, now over four years since the first hearing and a year since it took final evidence. Meanwhile, work is under way on the three miles to Newhaven which were not completed in the first phase. 8/10

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor on Edinburgh Council