Traders to smash-up papier-mache Edinburgh tram

Sainsbury's is one firm cashing in on the 'tram effect' with a new West End store. Picture: Greg Macvean

Sainsbury's is one firm cashing in on the 'tram effect' with a new West End store. Picture: Greg Macvean

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TRADERS will celebrate the launch of a Christmas campaign designed to lure shoppers back to the West End by destroying a giant piñata which resembles a tram.

Hacked-off business owners will take wooden bats to the one-and-a-half-metre long papier-mâché creation at a special event being held in William Street this Friday.

The campaign is being launched amid signs of a recovery in the West End’s economy, with plans for a new hostel and restaurant for Shandwick Place expected to get the green light tomorrow.

West End Association chairman Michael Apter said the demolition of the fake tram would be “cathartic” for traders who had been financially crippled by roadworks linked to the 
£776 million trams project. TV presenter and former model Carol Smillie, below, will also cut a tram-shaped cake in an ­official launch ceremony outside Ryan’s Bar for the Christmas celebrations.

Approval for the new businesses will come little more than a fortnight after the street reopened to traffic. Locals said they had been bowled over by the speed of the area’s post-tram works recovery.

Ruth McKay, Edinburgh chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “I’m genuinely impressed at how quickly that area seems to be picking up again given it’s been two weeks since they opened it up.

“It’s a very attractive place to have a business and I think it’s a sign that people can see clearly now the potential.”

The new hostel, which is expected to be face no opposition, will be the third to open around Shandwick Place. It will have three storeys and will be situated on the north side of the street.

The accommodation is being managed by Edinburgh building experts Format Design. It will include a ­communal lounge, ten ­bedrooms and a kitchen.

A separate restaurant will also be opened on the corner of Shandwick Place and Rutland Place, opposite the Ghillie Dhu and Huxley pubs, and occupying part of the former Clarks shoe store.

Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are also cashing in on the “tram effect”, having recently opened in the area.

Mr Apter said: “There are two or three units that have got ‘To Let’ signs up that haven’t got any activity in them, but all of the other ones have shopfitters in or have got ‘Let’ on them, or we know things are happening.

“People have to re-­establish their patterns of behaviour and get used to coming back to old haunts, but we’re confident that will happen.”

dale.miller@edinburghnews.com