A FED-UP Grassmarket shopkeeper whose window has been smashed twice in as many months has told how businesses are suffering because of alcohol fuelled yob-behaviour in the area.
Fauns Reid, 52, who owns hat shop Fabhatrix at Cowgatehead and is the chairman of the Grassmarket Area Traders Association, was dismayed to find her shop had been targeted again. The cost of replacing both windows will come to £1800.
“I just turned up at work one morning and the window had been damaged, and it came to £900 to have it replaced – that’s somebody’s wages for the month. It a more severe attack this time. It’s toughened glass so it has taken some doing.
“The last time it looked like someone had given the window a good kick. This time it looks like an instrument has been used. To the untrained eye it looks like it could have been a hammer, but for all I know it could have been someone’s skull.”
Ms Reid said drunken antisocial behaviour is an ongoing source of frustration for retailers, with rowdy bars putting off shoppers.
“The whole character of the area completely changes. You have problems with antisocial behaviour, people urinating in the street. Saturday afternoons used to be our best time of the week, now it is probably our worst. You don’t want to shop around drunk people.
“The Grassmarket has a nice feel to it during the day but if people see something like a smashed window on a regular basis they’ll think, ‘my God, what goes on in this place at night?’ What’s the point of having nice things like farmers’ markets if people just see the place as a ghetto?”
Ms Reid said she regularly had to contend with drunken men coming in and trying on expensive ladies wedding hats “for a laugh”. The Grassmarket Area Traders Association is hoping to become a Business Improvement District, where firms invest collectively in local improvements as part of efforts to tackle the problem.
Bill Cowan, who owns two shops in the Grassmarket – Costume Ha Ha and Ah Ha Ha – said the problem had improved, but much more still needed to be done. “Considering the council has spent £5 million on improving the Grassmarket, if I was a tourist I would find some of things that go on in the area pretty obnoxious.
“People often say if you live in the city centre what do you expect, but the reality is it’s a pretty new phenomenon.
“Twenty years ago you had vagrants and drunks, but you didn’t have this level of anti-social behaviour.”
Old Town councillor Charles Dundas said both the police and the council work hard in trying to tackle the “many problems” in the Grassmarket.
Last week, police launched a campaign aimed at stopping revellers urinating in the Grassmarket, warning anyone caught short they face a £40 fine.
“The council is well aware of lots of problems in this area and residents and traders are not shy about bringing these issues to us,” said Councillor Dundas.
Comment – Page 14