Evening News 2012 Review, Part 1
We begin our look back at 2012, which kicked off with ferocious winds, hospital crises and a Lib Dem disaster
The year started with Edinburgh picking up the pieces and counting the cost of 102mph winds which brought down trees and toppled chimneys. The wind speed recorded in Blackford Hill was a 14-year high.
It didn’t take long for the old chestnut of trams to reach the front page of the Evening News, as council chief executive Sue Bruce celebrated a year in the post by declaring that the scheme was “wildly wrong” from the start. Mrs Bruce, who was widely credited with getting the scheme back on track, even hinted that she had considered calling a halt to the whole project.
Support for the anti-capitalist protesters in St Andrew Square, meanwhile, was beginning to wear thin. The makeshift camp was said to be attracting a “potentially dangerous cocktail” of people. Eviction proceedings would begin, although the camp would eventually be moved on peacefully.
The Evening News revealed how a blunder by private contractor Consort meant that hundreds of staff were working at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary without checks on whether they had criminal convictions.
Cyclist Andrew McNicoll was killed after coming off his bike on Lanark Road on his way to work. The death of the 43-year-old – the stepson of charity fundraiser Lynne McNicoll – brought cycle safety back to the top of the agenda after a memorial fund was set up in his name.
We also told this month how street cleaners were selected for redundancy by having their names picked out of a cereal bowl. The 13 Blue Arrow workers were told that seven of their jobs were being axed during a meeting with their shift manager at their depot on Cowan’s Close. One employee described the scenario as “humiliating”.
We marked the end of the Lothian and Borders mounted police section with the headline “The End is Neigh”.
January 28 saw the Evening News reveal that Madonna was being lined up to play a gig at Murrayfield.
The News revealed plans for a giant Ferris wheel in Princes Street Gardens. Described as a major tourist draw, the temporary attraction would offer spectacular views of the Capital. As we know, the plan came a cropper later in the year.
At Waverley Station, we revealed how there were plans afoot to ban taxis from under the station roof amid fears of a terror attack. Bosses said it was the only major station where vehicles were allowed inside, but there were immediate complaints from both cabbies and passengers.
Power cuts hit the ERI, which proved particularly troublesome in the maternity unit where Samantha Preedy was giving birth in a birthing pool. Luckily, her partner, Callum Livie, had just downloaded a torch app on to his iPhone and used it to fish little baby Braedan out of the water.
There was tragedy in Sighthill where the bodies of Michelle Stephen and her five-year-old son, Leon, were discovered together at their Parkhead Grove home. Michelle, 31, was believed to have taken her own life after suffocating her son.
David Gilroy was convicted of the murder of Suzanne Pilley after a three-and-a-half-week trial. The Evening News devoted eight pages of the following day’s paper to coverage of the case. Her body has still not been found.
The Commonwealth Pool reopened to the public after its three-year, £37 million revamp, with David Wilkie making a splash to mark the occasion.
There was more trouble for NHS Lothian bosses when Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon accused them of “betraying their own patients” by fiddling waiting times figures in a bid to meet targets.
Meanwhile, attention turned to the zoo – and specifically the panda enclosure – where there were hopes Tian Tian and Yang Guang would produce the pitter-patter of tiny panda paws. In the end it was a case of close but no cigar, with the ritual set to begin again early next year.
It would be the biggest match in 116 years. This was the month we learned that Hibs and Hearts would face each other in the Scottish Cup final. The game to end all games. The countdown began with a debate over whether the match should be moved to Murrayfield.
This month also saw the Evening News produce our version of the classic Sgt Pepper album cover after being inspired by Sir Peter Blake remaking his iconic design to celebrate his 80th birthday. Our effort – Auld Reekie’s Lonely Hibs and Hearts Club Band – featured the likes of Dolly the Sheep, Tony Blair and Sir Walter Scott.
We also put our designers to work on the news that Edinburgh City Council meetings were to be broadcast live on the web. The Only Way is Essex became the Only Way is Edinburgh starring Lesley Hinds, Jenny Dawe and Steve Cardownie as you had never seen them before. Alas, the viewing figures have not quite lived up to the hype.
The seemingly constant stream of stories from the ERI continued with the shocking news that another power failure meant that surgeons had to complete an operation by torchlight. Consort, which runs the hospital under the PFI deal, faced being fined over the incident.
One of the longest running stories in recent years came to an end when Lothian Buses bosses announced they were dropping their controversial ban on non-folding buggies. Parents who had campaigned against the policy for years welcomed the move.
April also saw 14-month-old Deryn Baxter from Drylaw named the winner of the hotly-contested Evening News Top Tots contest for 2012.
Edinburgh’s eateries were sent into a spin with the news Hollywood A-lister Nicole Kidman was in town and keen to try out the Capital’s culinary hot spots. She appeared at a press conference with Colin Firth while in town to publicise their new movie, The Railway Man, before hinting that she was hungry. Exactly where she decided to visit remains a mystery, however. . .
She might not have been snapped out and about but 3600 drivers found themselves caught on camera – new bus lane cameras which were to prove the latest transport-related controversy in Edinburgh.
The beginning of May spelled the end of the old council coalition as the Liberal Democrats were all but wiped out at the polls for the city council election. It was a case of the tram project biting back – memorably, even a penguin polled more votes than one Lib Dem.
It was the end of the road for council leader Jenny Dawe, who failed to get re-elected and heralded in a new era of Labour-SNP coalition politics.
One of the first acts of the new administration was to order an urgent review of those bus lane cameras . . .
Once that was sorted out, there was only one story in town – the all-Edinburgh cup final. The Evening News unleashed our cup final song with ten days to go to the Hampden showdown. The accompanying YouTube video of Go East ended up attracting 131,000 hits on YouTube.
We had wall-to-wall coverage on the game in the lead up to the big day and our front page from Saturday, May 19, became a souvenir for fans. “This is Our Day” summed up the historic clash.
Hearts would, of course, run out 5-1 winners, leaving the green side of the city licking their wounds. All would not stay rosy at Tynecastle for long, of course.
June was the month when the country went Jubilee barmy, except Edinburgh’s schools. We told how the Capital was the only city to open its schools on the Monday before the official celebrations the next day.
Edinburgh found itself at the centre of national news when a deadly legionnaires’ outbreak hit the south-west city. It would eventually leave three people dead and more than 100 others ill.
Remember the plans for the big wheel in Princes Street Gardens? It was scrapped amid fears that the crane needed to put it in place would prove too heavy and collapse underground basements and tunnels in the gardens.
The Waverley taxi ban was also back in the news as we revealed a new plan to draft in golf buggies to take passengers from a new drop off point to the concourse. And Olympic mania came to town when the torch relay passed through the city, with around 50,000 spectators lining the streets to catch a glimpse.
The trams couldn’t stay out of the news, either. We revealed seven directors of former tram firm TIE walked away with payouts worth up to £158,000. On the subject of payouts, four Lothian Buses bosses were also revealed to earn more than the Prime Minister this month, receiving bonuses totalling £175,000.
June ended in a washout with a half a month’s rain falling in just one hour, putting a serious dampener on the Royal Highland Show.
Meanwhile, the ERI was at the centre of a new storm when a dead pigeon closed two operating theatres. The maggot-infested bird was discovered in the roof and a deep clean was ordered.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West