Furious venue owner says Leith has become like a ‘ghost town’ due to traffic scheme

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It’s claimed the area just off Leith Walk is ‘dead’ after raft of changes under new scheme.

The owner of a popular events space has accused the council of turning Leith into a ‘ghost town’ after bringing in a new traffic control scheme.

Marshall Bain, who runs Queen Charlotte Rooms in Leith, said local businesses are bearing the brunt of changes due to road closures, swathes of double and single yellow lines and reduced bus services.

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The venue has served the local community for more than 30 years, hosting wedding and funeral receptions. It’s famed for the signature Orient Express themed afternoon teas. Now, after starting to recover from tram works they say businesses are again suffering a loss of trade as people find it harder to access the area by car and public transport.

Marshall Bain owns the Queen Charlotte RoomsMarshall Bain owns the Queen Charlotte Rooms
Marshall Bain owns the Queen Charlotte Rooms

It comes after residents voiced fears that the introduction of controlled parking zone (CPZ) in June would lead to ‘parking wars’.

He said: “Businesses in Leith were ignored for years and lost so much during the trams fiasco. Now just as we are trying to get back to normality we are being hammered. The area around Constitution Street is just dead. Every day is like a Sunday morning.

"The ludicrous decision to close the main arteries into the heart of Leith from Ferry Road, Leith Walk Constitution Street and Restalrig is indefensible. The only access is now by already congested Duke Street or Great Junction Street, which is now gridlocked daily.

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"We had a good local bus service but now we’ve lost the 1, 12, 16 and 22 from the heart of Leith so now a half mile walk is necessary to enter the centre.

"It’s ridiculous. The abundance of double yellow lines, no drop off points or delivery spaces compound the problem. There’s only one disabled parking spot for this area. It’s a money making ploy charging residents for permits when there is not enough spaces to park. They have ruined the area.

"For us there is no way to legally drop off a funeral cortege at my premises. It's harder to get to by public transport, many come from outside the city so trams are no use. The pavements are so wide and corners so sharp that many buses struggle to access, they end up blocking tram tracks.”

"If the plan was to empty Leith of cars then they have succeeded - to the detriment of shops, restaurants, bars, pubs and offices who’s rates help pay their wages. Our local councillors sat back and watched business after business close due to tramworks. The reward for the remaining few is custom driven to other areas of Edinburgh. All that has been done is to displace cars to our detriment. Most of Leith is now free of traffic and footfall, which means businesses will suffer more financial difficulties.”

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Residents raised concerns during a six-week consultation period in 2021 where the plans received 1,003 objections. Mr Bain said that local businesses were not duly consulted on the plans.

"The council insists that they held consultations but mine and other businesses in this area dispute that. I am utterly dismayed by the lack of thought the council has taken to ensure the area can prosper.”

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