Rose Street is a mess, and not just because of the defacing of the Maggy Howarth mosaics with tar repairs; the streetscape is one of broken paving and cigarette ends.
It has been a problem for years, beyond the 1972 decision to pedestrianise, eventually completed in the mid-80s. Issues were raised in the 1998 Public Spaces, Public Life study, followed by a clean-up in 2002 after which the City Centre Management Company was able to say: “18 months ago Rose Street was a shambles, but now the street is cleaner. It has become a street that people want to go to.”
But a 2010 study highlighted a “lack of adequate investment and care” and three years later businesses clubbed together to improve the city centre under the Essential Edinburgh banner.
On the EE website are details of the Rose Street project, which says: “Essential Edinburgh alongside Edinburgh council and the Rose Street businesses worked together to transform Rose Street ... Essential Edinburgh consulted with Rose Street businesses ... for the transformation of Rose Street.”
In other words, over the decades one thing Rose Street has not lacked is consultation, yet council leader Adam McVey’s response was: “We will consult with local businesses and residents on how the character of Rose Street, including the use of mosaics and other public art, can be best reflected.”
There is indeed a consultation about the whole city centre, but when there has been no argument for decades about Rose Street, what’s stopping its proper maintenance?