Essential Edinburgh has put new heart into our city centre – Donald Anderson

One of the things behind Edinburgh’s success is its smart people.
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Smart people make a huge difference to the city and two of the smartest run Essential Edinburgh. It is the city centre ‘Business Improvement District’, funded not by you, but by businesses which are voting in a ballot to continue Essential Edinburgh’s plans for the next five years. Its aim is to help improve the vitality of one of the finest city centres in the world, and it is doing an amazing job.

It’s run by Denzil Skinner, a jeweller who has huge experience in retail, and Roddy Smith, whose background is in sports development but who has taken to city centre management like a duck to water.

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They are at the centre of a partnership with the council and the private sector that is one of Edinburgh’s great successes. Not only does Essential Edinburgh help keep the city centre clean, but it has also helped deliver an astonishing recovery since the pandemic.

Footfall in Edinburgh is 2.9 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels. The figure for Scotland is 13.9 per cent down, and for the UK the drop is 14.3 per cent – the Capital’s performance is the best bounce-back anywhere in the UK outside London.

Two things are obvious from that. Firstly, that Essential Edinburgh has helped achieve amazing results for the city, and the other is that the St James Quarter has been a magnet that has brought people back into the city centre, and not just to there.

The record in investment is equally stunning. Over £650 million is currently being invested in and around Princes Street. That doesn’t include the £1 billion St James development. Again, that’s a staggering success.

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I don’t have a vote in the ballot, but if I did, I’d enthusiastically support continuing the success that Essential Edinburgh has achieved. Edinburgh is a fantastic city and Essential Edinburgh has made it even better. Well done, Denzil, Roddy and all the team. Here’s to five more years of improving the Capital and helping make the heart of our city beat even stronger.

Donald Anderson is a former leader of Edinburgh City Council

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