Euan McGrory: Edinburgh city cetnre future at a crossroads

Christmas shoppers on Princes St
Christmas shoppers on Princes St
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This is a big week for the future of the city centre.

It has nothing to do with the ongoing work on the St James Quarter or any pedestrianisation plans or out-of-town shopping development. But it will have a big bearing on how the area evolves over the next five years. City centre businesses are deciding whether to continue with Edinburgh’s central Business Improvement District, or BID for short.

You would be forgiven for not even knowing about the existence of the BID - but you will almost certainly have enjoyed the fruits of its work. The basic idea is that businesses agree to set up and fund a management company to oversee a local improvement plan.

The cash has been used in Edinburgh for everything from paying for extra street cleaners - ever wondered why the city centre is usually cleaner than elsewhere? - to organising special events at Christmas and during the Fringe. So successful has it been that some are keen to see it expanded beyond its current New Town borders. Its work has also included support for the homeless funded by city businesses.

But first the companies working in the area have to vote for it to continue for another five years. The city would be a poorer place without it.