Traders’ fury at ‘extra’ 9 months for tram works

Tram works in Shandwick Place
Tram works in Shandwick Place
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TRADERS at Edinburgh’s West End are furious after being told the tram works which have shut the roads all around their shops will last nine months longer than they expected.

Businesses in Shandwick Place said they had always been led to believe the area would return to normal in spring next year. However, at a liaison meeting with tram officials, they learned the work was scheduled to last until the end of next year or even into 2014.

Trams bosses today insisted the fourth quarter of 2013 had always been the date for completion of the West End works, though the current total closure of the road was due to be lifted in the spring. They said the project as a whole remained on schedule to open in summer 2014.

Michael Apter, chairman of the West End Association, said: “We have been repeatedly told it was due to finish in spring 2013. We were given the impression that would be when traffic returned, buses would be back and we would be restored to something like normality.”

However, he said during a presentation by a tram representative at a meeting of the West End focus group, set up to keep local businesses and residents informed, a programme for the works showed the completion date for the West End works as “Quarter 4, 2013”.

Mr Apter, who runs Paper Tiger in Stafford Street, said: “You could see the colour draining from people’s faces during the presentation. It was very disturbing to see people so visibly rocked and upset. I’m concerned about what this means for businesses in the area and what impact it’s going to have on my livelihood.” He said the official had been unable to explain why the works were going to last longer than traders had been led to believe.

Today, a trams spokesman insisted Quarter 4, 2013, had always been the date for completion of the West End works, though the current total closure of the road was due to be lifted in Quarter 2. Mr Apter said the council’s explanation was “dissembling at best”. Gordon Renton, of Retro in Morrison Street, who was also at the meeting, said businesses in the area feared for their future. He said: “We are all suffering. People have just got out of the habit of coming this way.”

An Edinburgh Trams spokesman said: “The target programme states the Shandwick Place road closure will end in spring 2013. This remains the case.”