A turbulent year: 'Generally Edinburgh has weathered the storm well'

WITHOUT doubt 2009 will go down as a year of real change for Edinburgh. While much of the headlines have been about potential doom and gloom – the continued fall out after the collapse of HBOS and RBS and the shockwaves which saw jobs lost in almost every sector – at least the year has ended on a more stable note.

As the recession swept the country it was predicted house prices would be sent crashing by up to 25 per cent, but that did not materialise. And while the rapid growth in values ended – and some would say that is not a bad thing – the ship has steadied itself with small increases in price being recorded.

The market may not yet be as buoyant as it once was but there are encouraging signs that consumer confidence is growing.

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But problems still remain at the lower end of the market. Progress in providing much needed affordable housing for both purchase and rental has once again been painfully slow. And although the council is building its first new homes for decades much more money still needs to be pumped in by the government to avert a predicted crisis further down the line as demand continues to accelerate.

Of course the economic slump has not helped as housebuilding has virtually ground to a halt.

Many developers have land – worth much less than it was over a year ago– but many are still struggling to raise the money for speculative build, or are unwilling to take the risk while the market remains cool.

But hopefully as more money is made available from lenders things will begin to return to nearer normal this year.

The banking crisis combined with this general slowdown in the economy has seen unemployment in the city rise sharply – but to nowhere near the levels experienced in the early 1990's.

But generally Edinburgh has weathered the storm well and it is pleasing to see that those involved in business and economic development all remain upbeat about things continuing to improve in 2010 and beyond. We share that optimism.

In a few months the country will go to the polls with many predicting there will be a change in government at Westminster. What that will mean for Edinburgh remains to be seen but it is to be expected that Holyrood will continue to have more influence over its fortunes than down south.

But as we enter a potential new era in politics and a new decade we would like to take this opportunity from all at the Evening News to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.