Council must be vocal on trams

Calls for communication as extension project is approved

The extension will be completed by 2023

EDINBURGH council has been implored to liaise closely with local businesses and keep them informed as the extension to the city’s tram network gets underway.

The council last month approved plans to extend the tram line for three miles, from where it currently ends at York Place to Leith and Newhaven.

Works are due to start imminently, with completion scheduled for early 2023.

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While operators contacted by SLTN were all positive about the project, they expressed concern about disruption to deliveries as well as a general drop in footfall for the duration of the works. Communication from the council was said to be key.

Garry Clark, development manager for Edinburgh at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Local businesses need to be able to plan in order to mitigate the impacts that the tram extension will have upon their businesses.

“Whilst the council has gone out to businesses early this time around, firms are telling us that they need clarity on the timescale of the work to enable them to put these plans in place.

“Now that councillors have approved the extension, we need to see a detailed timetable of what will happen, where, and when, together with a full package of mitigation measures that will benefit all affected businesses.”

This was reinforced by Martin Wishart, who operates the Michelin star-rated Restaurant Martin Wishart on The Shore in Leith.

He said: “Businesses need to prepare for things like this.

“Personally I would need to contact suppliers, if it’s going to affect the drop-off or routes into Edinburgh and The Shore.

“If it’s going to affect that side of things I’ll need to prepare and notify suppliers, because we have a lot coming down here daily and weekly.

“And of course if customers phone in and ask about it we really need to know where we stand.”

And Vittoria Group owner Tony Crolla, who employs around 100 staff across four sites on Leith Walk, said although the extended tram line will be “fabulous” when it’s completed, “there’s going to be pain for three years, there’s no doubt about it”.

“As soon as I know when the job starts, officially, me and my team are putting a contingency plan together and brainstorming about what we should do,” said Crolla.

“I’m up for embracing the trams, helping to market that we are open for business, this is how to get here, this is where to park, this is what to do, these are the bus routes.

“You’ve got to do something. You can’t just think nothing’s going to happen. You are going to get a hit on sales for three years. Doing nothing is a killer.”

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh council said there will be a range of support for businesses affected by the tram works, including access to a Business Continuity Fund. The full range of support will be communicated via leaflets, email and the council website. More information will be announced next month.