Tale of two cities

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Tom Kington’s timely article on the impact of fleets of cruise 
liners on the fragile infrastructure of Venice (11 June) will have rung many bells with any resident of Edinburgh’s Old Town, in particular the comment that “souvenir shops catering to cruise holiday tourists… are pushing rents up and forcing out local shops”.

I seem to have heard similar observations about the Royal Mile more frequently in recent years.

Our council, when challenged, will tell you it has no control of the type of business conducted in an Old Town shop, unless it is licensable – and I do smile at the idea of a council which owns the leases, and collects the business rates, claiming that it is powerless to influence the type of business conducted in premises it owns.

That sounds like a Tory dream of deregulation.

I still miss the butcher and fishmonger at which we shopped on the Royal Mile in late 1980s.

Venice and our Old Town have much in common, and I will watch with interest her city fathers’ attempts to square the circle of preserving the character and structure of their ancient streets (they have cruise liners, we have vehicle traffic, which is as damaging) while maximising the tourist take.

Something, somewhere will have to give.

David Fiddimore

Calton Road