Businesses hit by the trams demand to be kept in loop

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BUSINESSES affected by tram works have demanded more information on the project’s progress.

A new survey has found that two-thirds of city businesses that have works on their doorstep want the city council to publish a full “works schedule”, providing details of the dates that works will take place on their street.

The survey of 170 small business owners also revealed that 84 per cent of them got information about the project from the press, while only 1.3 per cent said they got details from face-to-face meetings with the council or contractors.

The figures also showed that 72 per cent of business owners believe that the works are behind schedule, sparking calls for more progress updates.

Gordon Henderson, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in the east of Scotland, which carried out the research, said: “The point is there is a real desire for information because businesses along the route want to make plans. It is not just small businesses but big business as well.

“Everybody wants to know about timing, want to see a works schedule and also want progress updates as they go along. On a project like this, the schedule may change as they go along, but at least if people are kept up to speed they can plan around it. We need a works schedule and we need it in layman’s terms.”

The city council provided more information at a series of media and business briefings earlier this week about the next round of works early in the new year, including plans for Princes Street and Shandwick Place.

But the FSB said that it did not provide the detailed information on individual parts of the route.

Ruth McKay, chair of the Edinburgh branch of the FSB, said: “Our members have shown clearly that they need much more information on the tram works so that they can plan their own business activities accordingly. This desire for more information was echoed at a meeting with the council of business stakeholders, where most of the questions were about the schedule and dates.

“Some city centre-based businesses will only be getting six weeks’ notice of the road outside their premises closing for a year. That is not enough.”

Council chiefs intend to hold more regular briefings with businesses as details of each section of the route are finalised, and also publish local updates on the Edinburgh Trams website.

Dave Anderson, director of city development at the council, said: “Since reaching settlement with the contractor in September, we have much greater certainty around the tram project and, as a result, are better placed to keep stakeholders and the wider public informed as to the progress of the works.”