Big Wheel: ‘The city centre could use a jab of adrenaline’

SOME people will instinctively rail against the notion of a giant wheel in the historic heart of Edinburgh, but the scheme deserves serious study.

As we reveal today, the firm behind a string of other huge attractions from Belfast to Brisbane wants to place its next one in East Princes Street Gardens.

The 60-metre wheel would give passengers the sort of views of the Castle and other landmarks which can currently only be obtained from the top of the Walter Scott Monument – with an easier journey to get them.

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We may be wrong, but we predict that some of the “small-c” conservative voices in the city will rise against the plan, saying such a modern attraction would be out of place amid the historic grandeur of the spot.

But similar noises were made when the area became the centre of the festive celebrations and it is hard now to imagine the Gardens without the annual ice rink and Hogmanay celebrations.

The bottom line is that, after years of competition from out-of-town shopping centres and the travails of the tram works, the city centre could use a jab of adrenaline.

The Wheel of Edinburgh offers just such a boost. It would get people around the world talking about the city and it would give them yet another reason to visit.

The News opposed the bonkers plan to place Olympic rings on the Castle because it would have been a free advert for London with little local benefit but an obvious aesthetic cost. In contrast, it is estimated the wheel would bring in £1.4 million to the local economy.

Similar wheels have appeared in the vicinity of York Minster and Glasgow’s George Square and have had nothing but success.

As at Glasgow and Belfast the wheel would not be permanent – it would be here for five months.

So what have we got to lose? Let’s give the wheel a whirl.

Just not the ticket

The offer by Trampower to build Edinburgh’s embattled line all the way to Newhaven for the same money and less disruption always seemed like a bit of a non-starter.

All the same, the taxpayer had a right to know why this apparently cheaper scheme was dismissed so readily.

Today, we finally have some of the reasons behind rejecting the bid. Council documents highlight a string of concerns, from doubts over the numbers to a rather dramatic tram fire in Blackpool in 2007.

One question answered at last then, many more remain . . .