‘This looks like a pretty difficult sell’

TODAY’S plans for a voluntary tourist tax are a big disappointment.

The Evening News has supported the idea of a compulsory scheme as the most efficient way to raise extra funds to promote the Capital.

A modest levy of a pound or two would surely not be quibbled with by the customer and evidence of such schemes working can be found around the world.

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In Edinburgh, there were predictions that £3.2 million could be raised through a bed tax.

When you consider that the tourist industry here supports 30,000 jobs and brings in £1.6 billion to the city economy, then this was surely worth the investment.

It was far from universally popular but the idea was supported by the majority of the city council, so what went wrong? Crucially, it failed to gain Scottish Government approval forcing the authority back to the drawing board.

Today we have the alternative – a plan for a “pay if you like toll which looks like a pretty difficult sell in such straitened economic times.

Anything which creates extra funds to help promote the city on an ever more competitive world stage is of course welcome, but you have to wonder how effective this will be compared with the original plan.

The bed tax was a sound idea, this is a missed opportunity.

Strong candidates

there is always a risk when any political party or coalition enjoys such a big majority as Labour and the SNP do at the City Chambers that oppposition becomes impotent.

But it is exactly at these times that strong voices and characters are needed to hold our city leaders to account.

The appointment of the city’s Conservative leader Jeremy Balfour, a practicising lawyer with a keen eye for detail, to a new post scrutinising major projects and value for money is a positive step.

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He and Green councillor Maggie Chapman, who will head up the council’s petitions committee, will have to play a critical roles at times – in more sense than one – in order to ensure the local authority stays on the right track in the years ahead.

The choice of the city’s next Tory leader is now an important one for the good of the city.

The Conservatives may not have been in power in the Capital for many years but as the main opposition party to the Labour-SNP coalition they need incisive and vigorous leadership.

Fortunately the party is blessed with some strong candidates ready to take on the mantle.