I’ve had a vision about Edinburgh’s ‘Transformation’ – Kevin Buckle

Watching the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Finalised Strategy webcast, it reminded me of the vinyl revival.

An artist's impression of what the City Centre Transformation Plan would achieve
An artist's impression of what the City Centre Transformation Plan would achieve

The first headline I saw was “Vinyl sales double”. As somebody who sees the sales figures, I was sure that this was a tiny figure which when doubled would still be a tiny figure and yes indeed sales remained below one per cent.

No matter what is said or how big a number is if it is less than one per cent, as was the number of people who responded to the ECCT consultation, then you can’t give it too much credence. Similarly, doing better than a lot of other things that did badly is no measure of success. Again that the ECCT plan has had a better response than other consultations is not important when those other consultations have been so poorly engaged with.

Finally saying you did your best to get a wide representative response is not the same as getting a wide representative response and as I’ve said before I was surprised the response was so low as there was a relentless campaign to get active travel activists and those who would respond well to the plans to get involved.

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Add in on top of that a consultation prefaced with the comment that doing nothing isn’t an option and any sense of impartiality goes out of the window.

Having said all of that if the councillors had simply said that they had been voted in to make decisions and they knew what was best for a generally uncaring public then that would be a more honest appraisal of the situation and one many would applaud. My point here is not that the proposals are wrong just that the constant claim of public backing is wrong.

It is disheartening when you hear of a large sum of money guaranteed to be available only to find out that it is to fund the consultants and the consultations. It will never happen now of course but simply getting on with stuff and rising or falling based on those decisions and their successes and failures is a scenario many would be happy with.

It goes without saying that there were no firm plans to help businesses just a promise to minimise disruption to deliveries and a general assumption that somehow it would all help. My heart sank when executive director of place, Paul Lawrence, said he had been conversing with all the major business networking organisations as they in no way represent the small businessman who has no time or inclination to “network”.

One interesting comment was that the aim of all these plans was to make the city centre a more pleasant place to visit, and nobody would argue with that, but habits were changing and people did not care to visit city centres as they used to.

There is certain irony that while all these plans to save the planet are done in the name of our children and our children’s children what they care most about is their Amazon order arriving the next day by any means necessary and many will only visit the city centre as a last resort.

There is much to recommend in the latest plans but let’s be honest that this is a small number of folk imposing their thoughts on what is needed to be dome while hiding behind the public’s wishes.

With councillor Claire Miller declaring she would be pleased to see more disabled and old folk happily walking the streets of Edinburgh in the future I did have a vision of a city centre abandoned by all young folk and left to the old and infirm, myself included, to wander the streets happily unhindered by cars while also looking longingly at long abandoned shops.