Businesses in the West of the Capital have appealed for compensation from the council ahead of cycle route works that they claim could force some traders to close.
Construction on the council’s city centre west to east link cycle path is set to begin by the end of the year. A public hearing will be held into the proposals this summer, due to representations to traffic regulation orders.
George Rendall from Roseburn Terrace business, Art et Facts, presented a petition to the council’s transport and environment committee, on behalf of campaigners. A total of 28 firms and 89 individuals backed the proposals for a small business compensation scheme.
The campaigners believe they will see a 40 per cent reduction in parking and loading outside their premises during the construction and called for any compensation scheme to run for three years.
Mr Rendall said: “If my business drops much more, I won’t be here. A lot of businesses might just shut because they cannot afford to keep going. We want to survive and we need help to do that. Small business owners should not be at risk of losing their livelihood on account of the council pushing through plans that virtually nobody in the area wanted. They should be held accountable.”
Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Cllr Gillian Gloyer, pointed out a proposed £2.4m “sophisticated package of support” being offered to Leith Walk traders who could face disruption during the tram extension to Newhaven. The package offers a range of measures including help with developing websites and marketing. She added: “Once the work is finally finished, it will be easier for pedestrians to access shops on both sides of the streets because there will be the new crossing at the Russell Road end of Roseburn Terrace.
“I know there has been huge disruption already with utilities work, and I’m sure that’s had a negative impact on the businesses.”
Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said the impact would be different from businesses affected during the proposed tram works – and instead highlighted support for Portobello traders while a road is being re-sett with cobbles.
She said: “There has been an enormous amount of work put into this scheme. I see a much greater similarity to what the traders in Brighton Place are facing at this point.
“What we did there was to look at retaining a degree of vibrancy in the area – essentially an ‘open for business’ message. It was welcomed by the traders and they got heavily involved and have helped to front that campaign. That’s something we might be able to undertake quite easily and quite quickly. I understand the costs will be relatively small and we will be able to discuss that at the May committee.”
Conservative Cllr Scott Douglas, said he was “sympathetic to this proposal” by businesses but called for help for traders in “the immediate aftermath” of the work.
Cllr Macinnes said: “Every study shows that if you put more cycling and walking facilities into an area, in most cases, retail businesses benefit from that.
“It’s part and parcel of being part of a busy city – there’s constant change in how we do things. One of the things we are trying to do is improve how people move around the city and this fits into that.”