Following another record-breaking year for Edinburgh’s festivals, last night’s Hogmanay festivities certainly provided a stellar end to a superb 70th anniversary year.
As the world’s festival capital and a city which prides itself on its reputation as the home of Hogmanay, it is great to see the Edinburgh Evening News print today’s special New Year’s Day edition. Indeed, you are the first readers to hold a copy of this paper dated 1 January for over a century!
When this paper first went to print, the year was 1873. Sculptor William Brodie was working on a new statue to honour Edinburgh’s most loyal four-legged friend, Greyfriars Bobby, which would be unveiled later that year. The Scottish Rugby Union and Scottish Football Association were being formed for the first time, while a young Elsie Inglis grew up in India, yet to set foot in Edinburgh and influence medics across the nation.
Now, in 2018, we’ve seen our local paper continue to report on turning points in the capital’s history. Over the last 12 months alone, highlights have included the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing. Photos have documented works to rebuild a new St James Centre fit for 21st Century Edinburgh, while reporters have covered the beginning of a new Council coalition administration and the crucial securing of a City Region Deal.
With a growing economy and an expanding population, it is so important for a city like Edinburgh to plan ahead and, in the year ahead, I hope to read more about citizens’ ambitions for their city – not just for the coming year, but for the coming decades. As part of this, we will continue to promote the creation of a vision for 2050. So, when you make your own new year’s resolutions today, I urge you to make one for Edinburgh too. A greener city? A fairer city? Let us know at edinburgh.org/2050.
I also appreciate that this is a time of year which can be very hard for many people in the city, and there are urgent social issues which need to be addressed right now. That is why one of my personal priorities for 2018 will be to work with businesses and partners to build on the work of the OneCity Trust. Every torch lit for the Torchlight Procession provided funds towards the Trust, which works to tackle inequality across the city. More needs to be done and later this month, I hope to do my part through my first Burns Supper in aid of the Trust.
This season can be particularly difficult for families with loved ones in the armed forces, and for those veterans who have returned from service. In 2017, I signed an Armed Forces and Veterans Covenant, to improve support for the military community. I hope to see that work continue, while I also aim to make sure Edinburgh hosts fitting commemorations to mark the end of the centenary of the First World War.
And, while Greyfriars Bobby remains a permanent reminder of his story, I think we all know it is time for a new tribute. One which will honour a woman who did so much for the city, for the country, for the war effort and for equality. She set foot in Edinburgh at the age of 14, just a few years since that very first edition of this paper.
Let’s make 2018 the year we fund-raise enough to add Edinburgh’s inspiring Elsie Inglis to the list of the very few women honoured with statues in our city. The campaign needs Edinburgh’s help if we are to make it happen. Please donate: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/elsie.
Best wishes to everyone, and Happy New Year.
Councillor Frank Ross is Lord Provost of Edinburgh