£5m investment for Edinburgh City Centre improvements given green light

CITY centre firms have overwhelmingly backed a £5 million programme of investment in improvements to the local area over the next five years.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 11:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 12:06 pm
Essential Edinburgh picturs from announcement this mornign

More than 90 per cent of the businesses polled by Essential Edinburgh voted in favour of continuing a funding plan as part of the capital’s Business Improvement District (BID).

It means the 550 firms who currently pay a levy to fund projects including the street of light and outdoor summer cinema in George Street and St Andrew Square respectively will continue to collectively invest £1m a year until at least 2023.

The ballot canvassed the opinion of businesses across the food and drink, hospitality and retail sectors on Princes Street, George Street, Rose Street and the future St James’ Centre.

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It found 91 per cent of those polled in favour of the investment, with a record number of firms turning out to vote.

Essential Edinburgh chief executive Roddy Smith described the result as “fantastic for the city”, adding the funding boost would help launch a marketing campaign aimed at attracting residents across the Lothians and Fife back to the centre.

He said: “Edinburgh city centre is a very diverse area and we do have a complete range of businesses, big hotels, offices bars and restaurants and getting endorsement from across each of those sectors is brilliant.”

Mr Smith added: “We’re putting lots of money into a marketing campaign to try and get those from the areas around Edinburgh back into the city centre, we’re going to do a lot around protecting those streets and keeping the city centre clean and attractive.”

“We want those people from Edinburgh, across the Lothians and Fife to see coming into the city centre as a day out. It’s all about trying to make sure people see it as a great option.”

According to figures released earlier this month, retail sales in the BID area have grown by nine per cent in the last five years, while member businesses have also helped fund taxi marshals and additional CCTV cameras that have helped to bring crime in the city centre down by seven per cent.

The BID has also helped fund a partnership between Essential Edinburgh and homelessness charity Cyrenians, allowing for two caseworkers to help those living on the Capital’s streets.

Essential Edinburgh chairman Denzil Skinner said the vote allowed the firm to “move forward with confidence”, adding the challenge now was to prove its worth to the Capital’s residents.

He said: “We want a feeling across the city that we are all benefitting, it is a good challenge but a difficult one.”

“We’re incredibly lucky in the city with the impact of tourism, but that comes at a cost with the number of people here. It is a growing pain, but it is one we should embrace, it creates employment, it creates wealth for the city.”

He continued: “The benefit is employment and we need to get that benefit out to where the people in this city actually live.”