The economy: 'The road to full recovery will be a difficult one'

ALTHOUGH the UK's economy showed marginal growth in the last quarter of 2009 – after six straight quarters of decline – those who hail this as an indication that the country has finally come out of recession are perhaps somewhat premature in their thinking.

Despite a heavy dependence on the financial sector, Edinburgh's economy is diverse enough to have escaped the worst of the slump.

House prices did fall but nowhere near as much as had been predicted or feared. Values fell marginally and sales stagnated for a period while people held their breath fearing the worst.

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But in the last six months confidence has returned, house prices are rising and there are encouraging signs the market is returning to near normal – although it is unlikely we will ever see prices spiralling upwards as they did before.

Unemployment in the city has risen . . . and may do so again. But it is nowhere near the record levels set in the early 1990s and the percentage out of work remains far lower than in most parts of the country.

But perhaps the most encouraging sign that the city is beginning to find its feet again is the news that the construction industry, which had all but shut up shop over the last year or so, is awakening from its slumbers.

Hard on the heels of last week's news of an increase in the number of planning applications being lodged comes news today that more new homes have been started in the Lothians in the last quarter than in any other part of the country. Such activity is essential to help kick-start the economy.

But although the picture both locally and nationally is more encouraging than for some time there is no room for complacency. We are far from out of the woods yet and the road to full recovery will be a long and difficult one.

Action, not words

IT is easy to understand the frustration and anger felt by locals following another death at the notorious Leadburn Junction accident blackspot.

Following an earlier fatal crash, which saw the badly damaged Leadburn Inn closed for four years, Midlothian Council accepted a roundabout be installed to improve road safety. But they missed a funding deadline and nothing happened.

The council has offered its condolences to the family of the latest victim but while their words are welcome it is action that is needed to help prevent further tragedies in the future.