The Grassmarket is the place to come for a breathtaking selection of shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, contemporary designers, arts venues, historic attractions and so much more. Unfortunately the “so much more” includes a very unacceptable side, with a few businesses catering to the night-time economy of heavy drinking and its consequent rowdy behaviour.
I am chair of the Grassmarket Area Traders’ Association (GATA) and as a group we have tried to defuse this situation by collectively marketing the area with guides and through our website, www.grassmarket.net.
We have hosted events varying from markets to children’s lantern parades at Christmas. The more family-friendly events we have in the Grassmarket will hopefully make the large groups of drinkers feel uncomfortable and perhaps make them realise their behaviour is unacceptable.
Most of our pubs put on live music and comedy nights and host historical walking tours. They provide food and ban fancy dress and large groups of drinkers, while actively discouraging antisocial behaviour. A small number of large establishments on the periphery of the area welcome large groups of irresponsible drinkers and offer low-priced alcohol. Their customers should be dispersed quickly and should not be encouraged to dwell in the area as inevitable conflicts will occur.
GATA hopes to develop a BID (Business Improvement District). We will be speaking to all businesses in the area to find out how the majority want the area to be used and developed to the benefit of most people.
We want to maximise the Grassmarket, which has recently benefited from a £5 million redevelopment. We have well-preserved medieval architecture, inspiring castle views and we will create a safe atmosphere appropriate for this jewel in the centre of the Capital.
n Fawns Reid is owner of Fabhatrix hat shop in Cowgatehead