Businesses show their mettle but we need to buy local - Adam McVey

This again has been a year of challenges for all of us. There is nobody in the city who has been unaffected by Covid.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 27th December 2021, 7:00 am
View of old town Edinburgh with flowers during spring in Scotland
View of old town Edinburgh with flowers during spring in Scotland

It has again affected virtually every aspect of our lives: work life, social life and impacted our access to recreation like sport, gigs and shows and much more besides.

Throughout it all, our local and city centre businesses have been there for us. Working hard to keep their doors open for the things we need, and the things that make life a little more enjoyable during the difficulties we are all facing.

The “Sky Connect” survey of UK businesses this year showed the innovation and strength of our local traders, with 72 per cent of small and medium sized businesses diversifying their offer over the last year and 77 per cent of our traders saying they’ve showed resilience at its best during 2021.

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Councillor Adam McVey, Leader, City of Edinburgh Council appears before the Culture Tourism Europe and External Relations Committee to give evidence on the Transient Visitor Levy. 13 September 2018 . Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

This year Edinburgh was also named the UK’s most financially resilient city, the resilience of Edinburgh residents’’ finances is also helping keep our economy strong and businesses supported with a loyal and local customer base.

We’re continuing to work with the Scottish Government and cities across Scotland on a plan for the city centre recovery to get Princes Street back to its best. But it’s already encouraging that city centre footfall figures at weekends have exceeded pre-pandemic levels as local residents get out and support their favourite shops, bars and restaurants.

The council will continue to play its part to support businesses. The team are geared up to process and pay out more Scottish Government business support. The recent announcement of hundreds of millions more available to support traders most impacted by the restrictions needed to combat the Omicron variant is welcome. This is on top of the 19,000 payments processed by the Edinburgh Council team so far, totalling £250m for traders in the Capital since the start of Covid. We’ll also be continuing the “Forever Edinburgh” campaign. The next phase of the campaign “The Story Never Ends” reminds us of the amazing attractions, businesses and experiences right here on our doorstep.

There’s no getting away from the significant challenges of Covid on council teams but as well processing direct support, council staff will also be working hard to keep council services running and keeping the city looking as good as possible to help encourage everyone to continue to enjoy their city. My continued thanks to waste teams in particular who have been amazing, covering staff absence of those self-isolating by showing flexibility and dedication to our city. Just last month the council also secured £7.7m in Scottish Government support for improvements to communal bins in the City. This investment will make Edinburgh even more beautiful, cleaner and improve local recycling provision for residents in tenemental streets.

All the indicators suggest that Edinburgh residents have supported local high streets and the city centre. That in turn has helped the Capital’s economy remain strong and pushed unemployment back down- albeit not yet to pre-pandemic levels. With new necessary restrictions to deal with the Omicron variant, we all need to get vaccinated as well as continue to keep being loyal and local customers. I know the people of Edinburgh will continue to put their money where their heart is, and support our local businesses.

Cllr Adam McVey is leader of City of Edinburgh Council