Princes Street vision - 'It should not be beyond us to make progress'

Anyone who has spent much time in Princes Street will recognise architect David Sim's damning description of it as a "big bus station".

The downsides to visiting Princes Street have been the subject of post-shopping trip moans for years and potential solutions have been endlessly "brain-stormed" at the City Chambers.

We all know that it is very far from perfect and recognise that somehow the experience of visiting it should be much better.

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The refreshing thing about Gehl Architects - the firm for which Mr Sim works and which the council has hired to cast fresh eyes over the city centre - is its back-to- basics approach.

• Is Princes Street just "a big bus station", as a firm of leading architects suggests? vote here

Its team has taken the trouble to stop and ask simple questions like how easy is it to stop and chat in Princes Street or to do your shopping without getting wet?

Many of its solutions appear straightforward and would not cost the earth, yet could make a tangible difference to the feel of the place. Isn't the return of shopfront awnings, for instance, such a simple yet appealing idea?

Years of grand planning that have contributed very little to the experience of visiting Princes Street tend to make us cynical about every new blueprint that is waved in front of our eyes.

Undoubtedly, the next step - putting the vision into practice - is the tricky bit. But it should not be beyond us to make some tangible progress.

Here's hoping that we do not find ourselves next New Year re- running all the same arguments about the shortcomings of Princes Street.

Cash flooding in

There has been lots of talk about "donor fatigue" and how charities are suffering as more and more of us feel the need to count every penny in the household budget.

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So it is heart-warming to read of the success of the fundraising drive by Edinburgh-based Mercy Corps for the victims of the Pakistan floods.

The people of the city have donated an incredible 200,000 which is being used to create 50 clean water supplies in some of the worst-affected areas.

That means 50,000 people are now looking forward to a much brighter future thanks to that generosity.