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And another thing

The Edinburgh community has been getting itself steamed up of late over the plans of the city’s airport owner to charge motorists a £1 fee for delivering its customers to its door. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but that’s what they’re going to do. Petitions have been circulated and signed, but to no avail. BAA doesn’t give a toss for the travelling public and it’s going ahead regardless with its petty and avaricious plans, just as it has already in other places, Belfast, for example.

Its disregard for its users is also demonstrated by its silence over an issue over which it should be raising hell on their behalf. The approach road to the airport is shared with other commercial concerns. These include the Royal Highland Showground, at Ingliston, best known for its staging of the annual agricultural show of that name, but also for other exhibitions and events. When that centre isn’t in use there is no problem, but when it is . . .

I flew into Edinburgh in early June. I’d arranged to be picked up by our kid, but it was rather early for her to leave work, so I told her that I’d take a taxi to her office. When I got into the cab I apologised to the driver for the shortness of my trip, as opposed to the usual hire, for the city centre. He smiled and replied, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be forever getting out of here.’ He wasn’t kidding. As it turned out something called Gardening Scotland was underway in the RHS; the effect on airport traffic was unbelievable. Before I knew it there was £10 on the meter and we hadn’t even reached the first roundabout. At that point I gave up, paid the driver off, walked to the Hilton Hotel, and arranged for my daughter to pick me up from there when she was ready.

Granted, this ridiculous bottleneck only happens for a few hours of a few days each year, but it shouldn’t be happening at all. When it does, it has such a massive effect on airport traffic that you’d think BAA would be deeply concerned about it. But it isn’t, because, I imagine, most of the impact is on passengers departing. It would be simple and inexpensive to develop an alternative exit from the Showground. If BAA wants to win itself some friends, why doesn’t it use the proceeds of its rapacious drop-off charge to help fund it? If it did, then it might find that it had acquired a degree of popularity, instead of being the city’s second most hated organisation, after Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, the outfit which is making such a spectacularly bad job of overseeing the unwanted and unloved tramway project.

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