Capital bosses: Extra £3.5m 'not enough'

BUSINESS leaders in Edinburgh yesterday warned an extra £3.5 million allocated to the capital by the Scottish Government to reflect its city status was "not nearly enough".

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce hit out after the independent MSP Margo MacDonald revealed that a long-running campaign to secure a better financial deal for the city had borne fruit.

Graham Birse, the deputy chief executive of the chamber, said City of Edinburgh Council would be left with "very little room for manoeuvre" after receiving just a tenth of what it had requested from John Swinney, the finance secretary.

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Mr Birse said: "This has to be the baseline figure, as far as the council is concerned. It will not go far when it comes to the need to properly market the city and move forward major infrastructure projects."

The council put forward a detailed case for funding more than a year ago, well before news of the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB was revealed. The council was seeking almost 5 million to boost the funding of festivals, more than 1 million to meet the cost of hosting major events and royal visits and 500,000 for major public realm improvements.

Gordon McKenzie, the council's finance leader said: "We're not disappointed at all; this was broadly in line with what we expected. We will continue to argue for more, as we believe Edinburgh has a very strong case for additional support, but this is 3.5m more than we had last year and is certainly very welcome."

Shirley-Anne Somerville, a Lothians SNP MSP, said: "We are Scotland's capital and we are proud to be the capital. That privilege has always brought extra costs, and this recognition of the role Edinburgh plays is a major step forward."