The naked truth
NO-ONE wants Edinburgh to get the reputation as a dull, fuddy-duddy, old fashioned city. We want to be a modern, happening place.
Edinburgh is one of 20 cities across the world - including London, San Francisco Vancouver and Barcelona - due to see nude protests tomorrow as part of World Naked Bike Ride Day.
Organisers say they are making a stand against oil dependency and climate change, promoting cycling as an alternative mode of transport and celebrating "the power and individuality of our bodies".
There is something comic about the idea of naked cycling. And World Naked Bike Ride Day sounds like a bit of fun.
But there is a very serious issue at stake here. While nudity tomorrow as part of a one-off protest and part of a worldwide event might be seen as harmless, if we allow public nudity as a matter of course, where do we draw the line?
There is a clear danger of double standards here. Streakers who run across football pitches or cricket fields are arrested, as was the naked rambler who insisted on walking the length of Scotland without his clothes. The police have said they do not intend to intervene in tomorrow’s naked protest unless there is a complaint.
Their attitude appears to be that this is a bit of fun, but the question is: Where do we draw the line?
If we allow cyclists to go naked through the city, how would we feel about nude sunbathing in Princes Street Gardens or the Meadows? And what about a naked stag party running through the Grassmarket? Naked people walking with advertising on them?
Simply being naked in public is not in itself an offence. It is up to the police to decide whether it conflicts with decency laws or amounts to a breach of the peace.
But the danger in taking an overly-liberal attitude to tomorrow’s protest is blurring the lines. The message which may well be sent out from tomorrow’s protest is that nakedness in public is acceptable. Can we have a situation where we prosecute someone for being naked in public in one set of circumstances but not in another? Is that fair and how would people know the circumstances under which it is allowable?
It would be far more consistent to say we should not accept public nudity.
No-one wants to be a killjoy, but allowing nude protests could set a dangerous precedent.
FINDING suitable sites to locate new schools in the city is proving a problem for education leaders.
Providing affordable quality housing to replace run-down stock is an equally big headache.
Isn’t it refreshing then that city leaders may be able to kill two birds with one stone under a scheme being proposed to replace the crumbling Craigroyston High School.
Faced with the difficulty of finding a site, education chiefs now propose that it be built where council homes now stand.
It doesn’t look at first glance to be an ideal solution. After all, it will mean the relocation of hundreds of families.
But take one step back.
The 400 homes in question are on the run-down Pennywell estate - an area which has been earmarked for priority redevelopment under the city’s housing stock transfer plans.
As such they are likely to be pulled down anyway within a few years.
Under the current plan new homes will be built to replace them and residents will be fully consulted on where they will be relocated before any blueprint is agreed.
On the surface it therefore seems to make sense. Pupils and teachers get an urgently needed new school and hundreds of families benefit from improved housing.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West