Calls for Edinburgh Day holiday when tramwork ends

The bunting is already out on Constitution Street
The bunting is already out on Constitution Street
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CALLS have been made to introduce a public holiday – dubbed Edinburgh Day – to celebrate the end of the tram works with a city-wide party.

The Capital’s workforce would enjoy an early exit at the boom of the one o’clock gun to enjoy a drink with colleagues or browse shopping hotspots under plans that would prove a fillip to tram-hit retailers.

The proposal, backed by the licensed trades’ industry, is being driven by Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald.

She wants Edinburgh Day to coincide with the possible mooring of retired warship HMS Edinburgh next to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith and is set to pitch the concept at Holyrood in a bid to garner cross-party support for the occasion.

She believes the celebrations could be tacked on to an existing public holiday to avoid the inevitable bureaucratic red tape of creating a unique holiday.

At present Edinburgh Day is being mooted as a one-off – however, if it were to prove popular, it could become a regular fixture of city life.

“Shouldn’t we start afresh and have a big celebration to mark the end of the trams?” she asked.

“Some of those in business along the route have had a terrible lot to put up with and some firms have gone under.

“There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of feeling so it would be good to let it out in a good way and have a party and say ‘right this is where we are – and we go forward from here’. I am meeting with a committee next week over plans to land HMS Edinburgh and we could tie this into Edinburgh Day.”

Paul Waterson, spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, has backed the plans.

He said: “What the licensed trade has had to put up with in the areas affected is a scandal. Some have been ruined due to the mismanagement of this tram project.

“I would say the council should go further and help promote Edinburgh Day and put some financial incentive into it themselves.”

Keith Hales, chair of Leith Business Association, said local traders have already suggested closing off Leith Walk for a huge street party to mark the end of five years of tram works.

He said sealing off the Walk and staging an Edinburgh Day celebration would advertise the fact the city was back and “open for business”.

“Hopefully we would close off as much of it as possible working with the council,” he said. “It’s marking the end of quite a stressful time for a lot of people over about five years we have waited for years for ­reinstatement.”

But transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds poured cold water on the plans and said the public just wanted the project delivered on the revised timetable.

“I don’t think we should be celebrating it because the tram project has been damaging for the reputation of the city.

“I hope every day is an Edinburgh Day in the future and there are 365 days where people feel proud of the city.”

City takes time out

THERE are 11 scheduled public holidays in Edinburgh this year with hopes pinned on tacking Edinburgh Day on to an established date.

Aside from the traditional Christmas and New Year holiday season (December 25-26 and January 1-2), residents enjoy days off work on both Good Friday and Easter Monday as well as the mid-April Spring Holiday.

On May Day and Victoria Day, schools close and council offices remain open while the Trades Holidays Commence at the end of June.

This year’s Autumn Holiday takes place on September 16.