Okay, I know it’s a cheap tactic, but you have to admit that the attention is drawn by the adjective, if not the noun? Perhaps it is problem of modern society that we are just not terribly interested in anything without a hint of spice, salaciousness, money or glamour and
let’s face it, what could be less sexy than the notion of community?
Any local wit might argue that Leith at least can lay claim to a little of that – in the shape of the local entrepreneurs that still nightly trawl Leith Links or Salamander Street in search of custom. However, these tenacious street traders are on the list of complaints that has seen
locals relegate Leith to the bottom of a recent resident satisfaction survey in the capital.
Excluding the ongoing matter of street prostitution and the apparent lack of zeal in dealing with it on the part of the local police, the litany of negative factors cited included: the general crime rate, drug use and users, the Seafield stench and the proposed biomass power-plant by Forth Energy. Of course, most areas are affected by crime and related modern social woes, but many feel that Leith is often dealt a rotten hand in terms of environmental and community expectation and support.
If the local “consultations” regarding the power-plant in February slipped under the radar, the numerous news reports and articles on the matter have drawn local and centralised attention and criticism to the scheme, both from residents and the political establishment alike. Only the Scottish government however, can rule on whether the planning application to be lodged in June is passed or not.
Whatever happens, Forth Ports shares are currently buoyant – after rejecting three recent takeover bids by Northstream, a consortium of it’s own shareholders, the company can be very confident that it’s portfolio of residential and commercial developments along with it’s interests in sustainable energy makes it an attractive investment prospect – money IS sexy. Power-plants and their associated environs on the other hand – are not.
Despite boasting bustling bars, restaurants and shopping in the area and providing a home to a diverse, multi-cultural populace – some Leithers still feel overlooked, neglected and unheard because of such commercially driven high-handedness. Where is the area’s famous sense of identity and community? Surely Leith’s biggest asset should now be primed for reactivation in the face of corporate disdain?
People have always been the greatest commodity of the area and if somehow the innate pride and energy of the local community can be metaphorically kicked up the backside and motivated to collectively make itself heard then the time is right to be passionate about the place and the people again. Perhaps it’s time to make the community sexy.