Leader: ‘The case for charging those stuck is clear’

IF there is one thing that has come to characterise Bank Holiday weekends in the Capital as much as the unpredictable weather, it is the rescue of stranded day-trippers from
Cramond Island.

This time the Queensferry lifeboat was called out to pick up nine people who had apparently failed to pay enough attention to the tide times and the warnings about the dangers they throw up.

It is one of the joys of life in Edinburgh that we have so much genuinely wild terrain right our doorstep, from Arthur’s Seat to our rugged shoreline. However, if we want to enjoy this countryside in the city, we need to use a little common sense.

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Sadly, growing numbers of us are failing to do that and causing an expensive problem for our emergency services. The number of people getting stranded on Cramond Island, for instance, doubled last year. Those rescue missions now account for around a third of all launches of the Queensferry lifeboat at a cost of many thousands of pounds.

The case for levying a charge on those who get stuck on the island is clear.

The warning signs at the start of the causeway are difficult to ignore, but perhaps could be made bigger to make them unmissable.

Then, it would be reasonable to ask anyone who has to call out rescue crews after getting stranded there to make a contribution to the cost of their rescue.

We wouldn’t want a prohibitive fee that might persuade some to try recklessly swimming ashore. However, a token charge of say £20 per person would certainly focus the minds of anyone who thinks they can gamble with the tide times and use the lifeboat as their insurance.

Plodding along

It’s a bit like organising a huge party for yourself and then not bothering to turn up.

After all the publicity around the launch of Police Scotland, the force’s PR machine was conspicuous by its absence on the big day yesterday, leaving scope for lots of Easter egg on the face.

Calls to the communication office rang out as staff enjoyed the Monday holiday, with an on-call press 
officer instead fielding all queries.

We certainly won’t argue with public holidays, but perhaps given the importance of the day this was something of a missed opportunity.

In the early days of the new force, public perception will be key, as every event is seized on to make political capital and communicating with the public will be vital. After the slow start, let’s hope for a flurry of media activity on day two.