Letter from Edinburgh 08.05.09

I was sitting in a traffic jam the other day. Not in Edinburgh or Glasgow, but in Lerwick!

The one advantage of the extra­ordinary traffic lights arrangement at Grantfield is that it allows drivers some time to look at the new Hjalt­land houses emerging from the corner site. Shetland has a desperate need for more affordable housing so it’s good to see these nearing completion.

Later in the week I sat in another traffic jam in Edinburgh’s Cowgate. It’s the way into Parliament as most of the capital’s streets are dug up, being dug up or will shortly be dug up.

A hideous fire gutted a particular building in the city centre some years back, yet nothing has happened to fill a prestigious site in the city centre. The credit crunch and the recession haven’t helped in the last year, but actually nothing has hap­pened in many years. Planners argue with developers who argue with conservationists.

I’ve met a lot of business people across Scotland, and at home, over the last six months. How is the recession hitting you and what needs to be done to get the economy moving has been the theme.

I met a printing company in St Andrews this week. They do lots of worth for the R&A and the fortunes of golf are therefore important to the business. The constant refrain is the need for banks to make money available without lots of new charges and costs.

Business people, indeed all of us, would also like an identifiable local manager who has the responsibility for knowing the local economic circumstances and the power to take credit decisions on the basis of that knowledge It doesn’t seem that’s happening anywhere in Scotland, with any Bank. I know of Shetland examples where a decision ends up in Head­quarters rather than being taken locally. The banks, which we the taxpayer own, need to change, but it seems to be back to the future would be best!

I’m no Man United fan. But Darren Fletcher should play in the Champions League Final in Rome later this month. He was sent off against Arsenal in London on Tues­day night. Television replays showed that he cleared the ball in a tackle and the Arsenal forward then fell over his legs.

It’s tough on Scotland’s best mid­fielder that he currently won’t play in Rome. I hope UEFA introduces a right of appeal and quick.

This week has been Shetland schools week in Holyrood, approp-riate timing with the 10th anniversary of devolution. First the Northern Isles primaries were in for a tour, then Sound School and finally, this coming Monday; Sandwick Junior High will be taking part in a European quiz against other schools from across Scotland. It is great to see the next generation taking such a close interest in their democratic future, or at least having a good break in Edinburgh.

Tavish Scott MSP


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