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No to major sale of EDI for the capital

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January 27 2006

Claims that the EDI, Edinburgh City Council’s arm’s-length development company, is to be sold off to raise capital have been denied by Ian Wall, the chief executive of EDI.

Wall said: “There is no truth in the story whatsoever,” but he conceded that the city would need to raise capital to resolve its current funding difficulties.
In December, the Times reported that Donald Anderson, the leader of Edinburgh City Council, was looking at the possibility of selling off parts of the EDI to help plug a funding gap. The council is facing a £30 million deficit in its budget as a result of its failure to implement an agreement made six years ago between the unions and local authorities to introduce an equal pay agreement for its staff.

In addition to the EDI, the council holds a number of assets, such as Lothian Regional Transport and the EICC, which may also be the subject of speculation. In its 2005 annual report, the EDI recorded pre-tax profits of £1.33 million and a rise in net assets to £38.66 million. For the first time the group adopted a triple bottom line reporting system that measured not just its financial assets, but its wider contribution to the community.

Meanwhile, the EDI is celebrating the fact that, following the public inquiry, Scottish ministers have approved its proposed development at Haymarket. The scheme, which is designed by Reiach and Hall, had received criticism from Historic Scotland, on the basis that it was “too big” for the site. Wall said that he was very pleased with the outcome of the public inquiry. “Lack of approval for Phase One has held up our discussions with hotel operators for the next phase: they can now proceed,” said Wall. The subsequent Phase Two of the development, on the former Morrison Street goods yard, will be designed by Page and Park and Alan Murray Architects, with Ian White and landscape architects Third Wave as sustainability consultants.

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