Leader: ‘Records do not detail all near misses’

THE surprising thing about today’s move towards tighter controls on the rickshaws that ply their trade on Edinburgh’s streets is that it hasn’t happened sooner.

In these health and safety-obsessed days it is almost incredible that they have been allowed to ferry passengers around the city for more than a decade without any real controls over them.

The rickshaw operators will point to an apparently strong safety record despite the death of off-duty soldier Christopher O’Kane.

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And it is true there are few recorded incidents of accidents involving the pedal-powered taxis.

But official records do not detail all the bumps, scrapes and near-misses in which some of the vehicles will have been involved as they weave through the busy city-centre traffic. And serious concerns remain.

Is it right that someone can take out passengers in busy city-centre roads with the same kind of licence you need to busk on the Royal Mile?

The only safety checks carried out on the vehicles are down to the owners and their varying levels of expertise.

Of course, regulation for its own sake is never a good thing and the council should listen to any of the operators’ concerns about unnecessary bureaucracy.

But this is one case where city officials surely have a useful role to play in protecting the public.

Spare change

THE fact that the city council has found a couple of million quid down the back of the couch shouldn’t really be much of a surprise.

Few public organisations or private firms get their spending exactly in line with their budgets – and with nearly £1 billion of our money to spend every year the £2 million represents a pretty small “bonus”.

In fact, at this time of year councils across the land are accused, rightly or wrongly, of sending out workers on overtime to fix things, just so they can spend to the limit.

Some may even see the plans we report today as a gimmick ahead of May’s local elections, but we seriously doubt anyone’s vote will be swayed either way by such last-minute work.

And, on balance, if there is money to spare we’d rather see £500,000 spent fixing potholes and £650,000 on cleaning streets than have the money sit idly in the bank.