Letter from Edinburgh
Apart from the de-icer boom falling on a plane at Sumburgh at the beginning of the week, our airport has done a good job keeping open.
The challenge for Loganair has been getting a plane to Sumburgh. But Glasgow and, particularly, Edinburgh have been dreadful. As I write this on Thursday, Scotland’s capital has had no airport for 24 hours.
It seems extraordinary that airports of this size don’t have enough clearing equipment. Television pictures, in the sun, showed one tractor, two snow ploughs and a snow blower. And that’s it. People sharing a coffee on Tuesday at Sumburgh were observing that Amsterdam, Oslo and Stockholm have enough equipment to deal with repeated snow showers.
Okay. These places get more snow. And every winter. But Edinburgh Airport’s operators have a few questions to answer. They are spending millions on yet another road layout so that people dropping off passengers have to pay for the privilege.
The same applies if you stop to collect someone. For those who’ve been through the airport in recent months, the shopping fraternity can now find more ways to spend money than at the Gyle Shopping Centre three miles away.
Edinburgh Airport is part of BAA – an airport operator bought by a huge Spanish company in recent years. The billions in loans used to buy BAA need to be paid off. So what’s more important? Ever-changing road layouts, shopping and paying the bank loan or providing enough equipment to keep the airport open? It seems time for a re-think in investment priorities.
Shetland’s schools have, on the whole, managed to stay open this week. Well done to all who’ve made that happen.
I do appreciate that that sentiment is not of course shared by those of a school age and I will be subject to a vicious snowball attack at the weekend if any of the boys reads this column. But school closures caused by snow come days before our council considers permanent school closures.
Everyone can readily appreciate how difficult decisions like this are. Schools, parents and supporting communities have every right to make the strongest educational case they can and that has certainly happened in the last few weeks.
One of the key arguments made about Scalloway Junior High School has been the lack of a decision over a new Anderson High School in Lerwick.
Certainly a joined-up education policy would be one that flowed from a decision to spend tens of millions on one large new school and what that would mean for the junior high policy, not just at Scalloway, but across those junior highs which feed the AHS.
Most people would understand, although not necessarily agree, with an approach where these decisions have to tie together. That seems necessary.
Tavish Scott MSP