It may be a few months before we find out for definite whether Edinburgh Trams’ extension along Leith Walk and on to Newhaven will get the go-ahead but the work to put into place support for businesses who may be affected by the construction is continuing with businesses in the locality giving their views on the packages which may be offered. Amongst those ideas backed are cargo bikes, local discount schemes and a business continuity fund.
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Transport Convener, explains more: “We’re entering the New Year after a tremendously productive period of intense public consultation and engagement to make sure the plans for Trams to Newhaven truly reflect the needs and aspirations of the local community. From businesses and residents to interest groups, organisations and local councillors – everyone has dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy to helping us hone and refine the designs and plans and we’re sincerely grateful for all their contributions. Businesses have provided valuable insight into how best we can support them and the whole area if and when construction gets under way. We’ll use the coming weeks to develop a workable implementation plan as part of the Final Business Case and will keep traders up to date on progress ahead of the March decision.”
During the autumn there was a targeted survey carried out with local businesses allowing traders to have their say on a £2.4m package of proposed support, feeding back on what types of support and assistance they think would most benefit them during construction.
This survey found that those areas which would be most beneficial would be:
* A business continuity fund
* A business development champion for the area
* Added investment in keeping the area tidy and attractive
* On-street guides
* An Open for business campaign
* Subsidised local discount scheme
* Logistics hubs
* Scheme to facilitate local deliveries from businesses (e.g. by cargo bikes)
The idea of a business rates reduction was also considered but many respondents already benefit from the Scottish Government’s Small Business Scheme and so this wasn’t considered to be vital as it wouldn’t affect them directly. However, they did say any businesses who are subject to rates would see this as a positive impact.
Garry Clark, from the Federation of Small Businesses, commented: “The Federation of Small Businesses welcomes the proactive steps that the Council is taking to engage with local businesses in and around Leith Walk in advance of a decision on taking trams to Newhaven. Any works of this nature will cause disruption to business and it is imperative that the right support is in place to mitigate the impact, particularly on smaller businesses.”
The Final Business Case is currently being prepared – which will include full details of business support – and is set to be debated by the full Council in March 2019 at which point a decision will be made on whether to approve the extension to Newhaven.