It is plausible to imagine a scenario where the residents and businesses of Edinburgh’s West End develop a new malady to be known as civic paranoia – a belief that everyone is out to get them.
The trams, the council, MSPs and developers must all be on the shortlist of causal factors. Firstly, Holyrood moved the centre of town eastwards with a parliament that has acted as a springboard to new development, including Dynamic Earth, office space, pubs, shops and now New Waverley. Then along came the trams to rip everything up for several years. Construction is delayed. Costs overrun. West End businesses close.
But at least everything’s back to normal now. Er, no.
Even though pavement and road repairs were promised following completion of the tram line this still hasn’t happened more than a year after construction ended.
Traders say Shandwick Place, Queensferry Street Lane, Coates Crescent, Atholl Crescent and Stafford Street are “not good enough”, while at the other end of the city centre, tarmac pavements have yet to be replaced at the corner of York Place and Broughton Street.
The council is sorry but traders are rightly angry that they again seem to be bottom of the pile.
While the council (correctly) moved heaven and earth for redevelopment of the St James Centre, it now stands accused of forgetting to do right by local businesses, many of whom have been trading long before artist impressions for the St James Quarter were first put to paper.
The West End could be, and should be, one of the city’s jewels. A thriving mix of local independent shops and high street names in an area of strong footfall.
Many local businesses and the West End Association are pushing hard to shine more attention on this important area. The council needs to do its part by fixing the pavements. The rest is up to the businesses who, amid increased competition, must work harder than ever to attract our attention.
We wish them well.