Leaders: ‘Fees may be a false economy’

Have your say

Any suggestion of charging people to use something which has traditionally been free is going to be controversial.

It is doubly so when it involves the use of a natural asset – an asset which many will suggest local authorities are already paid to look after.

The bid to introduce fees for groups using the Pentland Hills for events may seem like an issue which should not concern the majority of park users, but it will raise fears that this is the thin end of the wedge.

The councils are, of course, in a difficult situation, with budgets being squeezed in all areas and, along with savings, new revenue streams have to be identified.

But the fear is that once the principle of charging has been established, it is easy to keep increasing those charges.

There is also the potentially complicated issue of enforcement and collection of the fees, neither of which will be free and may result in the charges barely adding up.

It will be the councils which will be under fire if the condition of the Pentlands deteriorates and they must find a way to ensure this important resource is protected for future generations to enjoy.

However, if demanding fees ends up discouraging events which promote a healthy outdoor lifestyle or raising vital funds for charity, it may instead prove to be false economy.

Porty takes paws

First it was cyclists and pedestrians jostling for space on Porty Prom.

Now dog owners and beachcombers are wrangling over who has first rights on the sands.

It may be windswept and in need of a little TLC, but everyone wants their piece of Edinburgh’s seaside.

The amount of dog dirt that spoils the prom and beach suggests that something should be done to control the canine visitors.

But should we spoil one of the city’s best dog walks by banning dogs from the sands or forcing them to stay permanently on the leash? And would a ban – the enforcement of which would be realistically at best patchy – change the behaviour of that minority of owners who cannot or will not behave responsibly?

The answer lies perhaps in the same kind of co-existence that
cyclists and pedestrians are trying to manage by following the new code of conduct being promoted on the prom.

Making a section of the beach dog-friendly and another poop-free seems to be the perfect compromise. There is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the surf on their feet –
or paws.