I absolutely welcome the news that Edinburgh has been awarded £20m towards its scheme to revamp George Street. This money should help transform it from a car park to a place designed for people, and all involved in the project should be warmly congratulated for the time and energy they have invested in it.
It is worth thinking about, however, where the Scottish Government found the money. Research published by Holyrood in July showed that although the Scottish Government’s Revenue has fallen by 2.8% between 2013-14 and 2018-19, they have chosen to cut Council funding over the same period by 7.5%. This manifests itself in Edinburgh in the form of a social care system in crisis, cratered pavements, blocked drains, full litter bins, rampant weeds and schools where teachers buy the pencils. Frankly, at times I am embarrassed at the state of our city and utterly frustrated by these cuts.
So Micheal Matheson MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity) turning up with funding for George Street is akin to a burglar clearing out my house and coming back the next day with a couple of DVDs he didn’t fancy.
It’s little wonder that the only Edinburgh Councillors that turned up to meet Matheson to take part in the charade were nationalists, others may have been tempted to ask where there rest of our money was.
The reality is that Councils should not have to submit “bids” and “compete” for money to be “awarded” to them. This money should be there’s by right, not something they have to bow and scrape for.