Last week my 14-year-old son went out for the afternoon with some friends to Portobello beach and I warned it was a magnet for bother on hot, sunny days, writes John McLellan.
The first thing he said on returning was: “You weren’t wrong about the trouble,” and pointed to his phone and the newly posted Evening News story about the beach brawl, going on to describe bystanders screaming as punches were thrown to shouts of “Lochend” and “Niddrie”, and then of alleged pugilists being led away in handcuffs by police.
There were reports of similar youthful exuberance on the Prom during Bonfire Night in 2017 which led to Portobello being one of the four dispersal areas introduced by police last year to allow them to move on groups they suspected were intent on causing trouble.
My colleague in Portobello, Cllr Callum Laidlaw’s suggestion that such dispersal powers might be a way to prevent trouble in future was decried as “draconian and inflammatory” by the SNP, but I doubt that the many law-abiding people who witnessed last week’s brawl were wondering when the social work team would arrive.
The danger with strong police action is the possibility that young people genuinely just out to enjoy the fine weather are affected too, but that has to be left to officers’ discretion. Dispersal is not arrest and if you don’t cause trouble then there should be nothing to fear.
My son and his friends managed a day at the beach without feeling the need to give anyone a kicking.
Approval comes with strings attached
As the high tourist season kicks in, Cockburn Association chair Cliff Hague hit out at what he suggested was the city council’s “absolutist pursuit of growth in tourist numbers and the hotels, transport, events etc that such growth requires”.
Attacking hotel plans for the old Royal High and India buildings, Mr Hague observed: “The question that needs to be asked is not ‘how can we attract as many tourists as possible?’ but rather ‘how can we manage tourism so that it does not destroy our city and communities?’”
Mr Hague did not mention his association’s enthusiasm for the Dunard Concert Hall, the giant concrete dome to be shoe-horned into the city centre to “strengthen Edinburgh’s position as an international festival city and provide year-round cultural opportunities for the city’s residents and its many visitors.” The right kind of visitors, presumably?
Sick Kids won’t wait
The disastrous delay to the opening of the new Sick Kids’ hospital in Little France is a staggering example of incompetence and for all the SNP’s criticism of the way the original Royal Infirmary project was managed at least it was able to take in patients on completion in 2003.
The priority is obviously to ensure children are treated in the best conditions possible, but talk of a year’s delay when the new hospital was supposed to open in 2012 is extraordinary.
And the old building, set to be converted into flats? Liverpool-based property group Downing won’t comment but health minister Jean Freeman might get a bill.
Put in the picture
What do teenage climate revolutionary Greta Thunberg, Irish poet Seamus Heaney and the late Hibs legend Lawrie Reilly have in common? Not very much, except characters looking suspiciously like them have featured in artist Chris Rutterford’s splendid transformation of the dank Colinton Railway tunnel into a giant work of art inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage. With a year to go before completion, maybe Mr Rutterford will accept nominations for inclusion?