Parks for hire: 'Let's not lose sight of the bigger picture'

HIRING out the Capital's parks to commercial operators like the Taste of Edinburgh festival is never likely to win the city council many friends.

There will always be people ready to complain that their council tax pays for the parks and gardens, so why should they have to fork out a second time just to get into one of them on a particular day.

Ticket prices of up to 12 a person for some of the events only serves to fuel the feelings of these objectors.

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And they have a point, in so far as these green spaces do exist for the greater good of us all. But let's not lose sight of the bigger picture.

The sheer breadth of entertainment staged in the Capital is one of the great pleasures of living here.

The city would certainly be a poorer place if it did not play host to events such as the Moonwalk, Sport Relief, the Taste of Edinburgh and the circus on the Meadows.

Of course, a balance has to be struck between accommodating them and protecting the parks and the interests of the people who use them.

The council has introduced rules to limit the number of times any given park can be used and ensure that events are spread around various green spaces.

In these circumstances, as long as commercial users continue to pay for any damage they create and leave a little extra in the city's coffers, they should be allowed to continue.

England expects

LOVE it or loathe it, the World Cup is here – and will be pretty much inescapable for the next four weeks or so

And as sure as the globe's biggest soccer festival comes around every four years, so too does the national debate about whether or not Scots, in the inevitable absence of our own team, should support England.

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One recent survey suggested at least as many Scots want England to lose as wish them well.

Today we report that some supermarkets in the city aren't even putting up flags of St George in their World Cup displays in case it puts off shoppers or leads to friction.

All of which seems a bit barmy. Isn't it just common sense that people should be able to support who they want – including the many English and Scots in Edinburgh who will be cheering on Capello's boys?

And, yes, those Scots who don't share their enthusiasm should be free and unashamed to join the Anyone But England camp.

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