Monday, 14 April 2008

Salmond backs 'Project Edinburgh'

The Times, April 12, 2008

The First Minister, Alex Salmond, has given his backing to ambitious plans, designed to promote Edinburgh as a capital city “fit for the 21st century.” He believes that the city’s status was not properly recognised by the previous Labour administration, with its West of Scotland bias, and is anxious to promote its role as the capital of the whole nation.

His endorsement comes as a new manifesto for 'Project Edinburgh' is launched by Sir Terry Farrell, the leading architect who is the city’s design champion, and who has in the past charged local councillors and officials with being in the grip of “the forces of lethargy.”

Mr Salmond has had two meetings recently with Sir Terry and is said to be keenly interested in his ideas - though he has not yet seen the detail of his 12-point “action plan for change.” He is, however, known to be enthusiastic about the new mood within the city, following the recent change in its leadership, and is determined to promote its image as a great European city.

Last night Sir Terry said: “As the capital city in a Scotland which is increasingly self confident, Edinburgh has a crucial role to play and I told Mr Salmond that he had a role to play too. He understood and I think accepted that, and I was impressed by how much he had accelerated his knowledge of the issues involved in just a few weeks.”

Sir Terry, who was appointed to his council-sponsored position in 2004, revealed late last year that he had felt a sense of failure in the post, after working under the former Labour administration in the city, and its “atrophied” planning procedures.

But he said the new SNP/Lib-Dem coalition, which was formed after last May’s elections, and the appointment of Dave Anderson as a new director of city development had transformed official attitudes to Edinburgh. Mr Salmond’s support, he added, was a turning point for the city.

However Sir Terry warned that Edinburgh still faced the challenge of overcoming complacency and a lack of vision.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said that Sir Terry was to be congratulated for “raising awareness of the importance of good quality development and urban design in delivering a successful future for the city of Edinburgh.”

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