Leith traders show they mean business with chamber revival

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LEITH is to have its historic Chamber of Commerce revived in order to help shape the area’s regeneration.

The original Leith Chamber of Commerce had been active in the area since 1852 and successfully campaigned for the Royal Yacht Britannia to be located within the docks. But the organisation was disbanded just over a decade ago, when it was incorporated into Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

Now a new board of directors has been set up, featuring a range of local businesses, including accountants, restaurateurs, banks and the managing director of Hibs.

It is hoped that the new chamber will be able to develop a programme of events for the area, as well as helping to represent businesses against the backdrop of major renewable energy developments in the Port of Leith area.

Graham Birse, managing director of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is important to restore and revive the Leith area. The [Leith] chamber has a proud history and businesses need a chamber that will act in their interests.

“They have to align with the Edinburgh chamber but also have their own board of Leith-based business people with the objective of restoring services and activities.

“If you think of the impact of the tram work on Leith there was a specific Leith position because of significant disruption down Leith Walk and Constitution Street that arguably affected businesses in Leith more than with other parts of the city, so local interests are of importance.

“Forth Ports also have proposals to develop Leith as a UK hub for offshore wind energy so an active Leith chamber can only add to that potential.”

When it was formed in 1852, the Leith Chamber helped represent mercantile trading and commerce but has not been promoted as a separate entity to the Edinburgh chamber for some time.

The new board is to be chaired by John Kennedy, a partner in Constitution Street-based accountancy firm Cowan & Partners, and its ten members also include Fife Hyland, managing director of Hibs, chef Tom Kitchin, who runs The Kitchin, and Keith Anderson, chief executive of the Port of Leith Housing Association.

Mr Kennedy said: “Leith chamber has such a strong tradition that many of us felt it essential that we revive it and make it relevant to today’s business community.”

Leith councillor Gordon Munro said: “I see the new chamber as being evidence of the resurgence of Leith and hope that all of Leith will come together to work for the area.”