Saturday, 1 March 2008

Edinburgh at Risk

Capital has a heritage worth standing up for

THE intention of the council to withdraw support for Edinburgh World Heritage comes as no surprise to campaigners embroiled in myriad struggles with a council intent on destroying the city's heritage by adopting a policy of flogging off assets as a short term cure for the financial mismanagement of previous administrations.

The result of this intention will be the continued transformation of Edinburgh from a city of heritage and character to a banal living space. One only has to look at the changing skyline over recent years to witness its evolution from historic city of unique character to mere development opportunity for Legoland flats.

Short-sighted and unethical decisions such as this withdrawal of funding fail to take account of longer-term impact upon the city community or that community's views. Compare the councils cosy attitude to developments such as Caltongate which threatens the very heart of the city or the Orrocco Hotel extension over public land to its hostile disregard for those who development affects most.

The result has been the formation of a whole host of community based campaigns determined to save the city's Common Good assets.

Facilities such as Meadowbank Stadium and Portobello Park belong to us and are supposed to be managed on our behalf but are being auctioned off against our wishes. Even the watchdog Audit Scotland is complicit in this sell off, sitting on its hands as Edinburgh and other councils hock our assets.

Councillors turn their pockets inside out to demonstrate fiscal powerlessness and close schools while public finances swill about and sink into private coffers for the development of trams and staging umpteen festivals.

My view is that the bad news for you, the reader, is that while you too sit on your hands, this situation will get worse. You will have to get used to the decimation of the city's character and the theft of common good assets while your council tax money augments the profits of private developers and subsidises events outside the city, such as Glasgow's hosting of 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The ray of hope is that local people are organising themselves to resist. The rise of organisations such as Save Our Old Town, Porty Greenkeepers, Save Our Schools and the success of Portobello Campaign Against the Superstore, etc, indicates that people realise they cannot trust political parties to represent their interests.

This is reflected throughout Scotland where the Development Trusts Association for Scotland and Local People Leading report Edinburgh City Council is prepared to see Edinburgh go from World Heritage site to just another vapid modern city - just as they prepared to destroy our heritage and public utilities for a short term "solutions".

By Kevin F Ferguson who is a member of Edinburgh At Risk Article Dec 07

Friends of CorstorphineHill Gardyloo Save Our Old Town