Kevin Buckle: Edinburgh council has abandoned the Grassmarket

Sir Richard Branson is to open a Virgin Hotel in India Buildings on Edinburgh's Victoria Street. Picture: Getty
Sir Richard Branson is to open a Virgin Hotel in India Buildings on Edinburgh's Victoria Street. Picture: Getty
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On a positive note for the Grassmarket, the Virgin Hotel when it opens on Victoria Street will be a boost to the area and maybe an incentive for all concerned to see how the area can be made more of an attraction to visitors if events are going to be few and far between.

The hotel certainly talks a good game when it speaks about supporting local music and the arts and when the council wishes for a high-quality market and events it should recognise that normally if you leave these things to the free market that is exactly what you won’t get. I’m not convinced the Edinburgh Old Town Business Improvement District (BID), which will be decided in June, will get the support it needs to go ahead, leaving the Grassmarket along with the rest of the Old Town rudderless. Given the blatant failure of the Grassmarket BID, which did always have the cards stacked against it, it is understandable that many don’t see a BID area as the way forward yet some organisation is essential if the Old Town is not to be overwhelmed by the all-powerful Essential Edinburgh BID.

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Edinburgh council may want things to change, and may even have identified where things need to improve, but they will have to be proactive in actually making these things happen.

It is a pity that something more exciting isn’t planned at the King’s Stables Road end of the Grassmarket but even there something being built will be better than the current rubble strewn site. The Grassmarket has been abandoned by the council for too long. If they don’t want events in their expensive “events space”, they need to do more than simply hope and wish for what they do want.

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