Bring Easter Road out of hibernation

The aim is to make Easter Road more attractive
The aim is to make Easter Road more attractive
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City chiefs are to work with Hibs on an action plan to improve Easter Road.

The city council is to consult with the club and other businesses in the area on what must be done to make the street a more attractive environment for people to visit and shop.

They want to win more trade for local shops, bars and restaurants from the supporters that flock to the 20,000-capacity stadium for each match.

One option likely to be considered is whether Hibs can be encouraged to use local suppliers to increase the economic benefit to the area.

Other proposals are likely to include seasonal campaigns, creating a specific brand for the area and showcasing artwork in empty shops.

Council chiefs say Hibs are one of the “key stakeholders” being asked to feed into its action plan for the area.

News of the joint work follows criticism of the council for a perceived Hearts “bias” after it investigated plans to develop a community stadium with the Gorgie club.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said: “We need to make sure all of our city areas like Easter Road and the Leith area are as economically active as possible and we need to work with major employers and major players in these areas.

“In and around Easter Road, the council has a number of strategic assets, such as schools.

“A large number of people descend on Easter Road and Tynecastle for matches and we have to make the environment as interesting as we can to make it worth staying in, so that people don’t just walk there, go to a game then go home, but stay in the area or maybe bring in the family to do other things, such as retail and cafes.”

The move has been backed by businesses and residents in the area, who believe that the street has a lot to offer.

James Wrobel, owner of speciality wine and beer retailer Cornelius, said: “It is a bit of a cliche but it is quite a cosmopolitan community because there is a real mish-mash of people, so that creates a bit of buzz, energy and activity around here.

“I’d definitely be cautiously positive about the council looking to do this and I’d like to hear more.”

However, he is less confident that the area can cash in more on football matches.

He said: “Personally, I can’t take advantage of it at all, being in the booze trade, and I do not want to. The last thing I want is half a dozen Old Firm fans wanting to buy some Buckfast.

“The problem with any big game is that it drives a lot of the local community to batten down the hatches and hide for an hour or so, so that takes away any benefit of more people coming in.”

Leith councillor Gordon Munro, who has previously raised concerns about the council’s work with Hearts, said: “It is most encouraging to hear they are working with Hibs and I’m sure Hibs and the rest of the community around Easter Road will be seeking parity in funding with other areas of the city.”