Forth Road Bridge: rallying call for South Queensferry

The deserted High Street in South Queensferry. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The deserted High Street in South Queensferry. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A CAMPAIGN has been launched to help businesses reeling from the closure of the Forth Road Bridge.

Transport chiefs shut the vital crossing a week ago to carry out essential repairs, causing festive takings to plummet in South Queensferry.

But now Marketing Edinburgh has joined forces with the city council to revive the ailing fortunes of the area’s hotels, shops and restaurants.

Responding to the crisis, they will advertise tours and top eating and drinking hotspots via a newsletter going out to 16,000 people.

John Donnelly, chief executive at Marketing Edinburgh, said: “The Forth Road Bridge closure, particularly at this traditionally busy time of year is unfortunately having an impact on local independent business in South Queensferry.

“Along with our sympathy to business owners, it is Marketing Edinburgh and the city’s responsibility to take proactive action to support them, and all of Edinburgh’s retail and hospitality traders, by encouraging visitors and locals to get out and enjoy the region’s rich festive offering.”

Marketing ideas being considered include a “top five things to do in South Queensferry this Christmas” plus recommendations for independent shops to visit.

Councillor Frank Ross, economy leader, said: “Ironically, whilst there are bottlenecks at normal rush hour times, it is easier than people think to travel to South Queensferry from the city centre, especially by public transport.

“I’d encourage people to go, making good use of the travel information available online. I urge locals not to be deterred from visiting the fantastic retail offering in South Queensferry and to show their united support this Christmas.”

The city council and Marketing Edinburgh will also work with the local Business Improvement District, Queensferry Ambition.

Project manager Maggie Mitchell said: “People think that, because the bridge is closed, South Queensferry is closed but it is very much open for business. We would really welcome people to come into South Queensferry and encourage residents to ‘shop local’.”

Andrew Kerr, city council chief executive, has pledged to work to minimise disruption until the bridge is reopened in the New Year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP yesterday pressed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on whether any changes will be made to the future inspection regimes of the bridge.

He emphasised that while a parliamentary inquiry into the impact of past decisions must take place, future regimes must be improved to stop such a closure from happening again.

But speaking after his questioning, Mr Rennie said he had “received very little in terms of substance” in the First Minister’s response.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com