Edinburgh council refuses compensation scheme for businesses hit by roadworks

Traders’ pleas for a compensation scheme to help their businesses survive disruptive roadworks have been turned down by councillors.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 18th March 2022, 4:55 am

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The shopkeepers from Roseburn Terrace, who say they have lost up to 70 per cent of their trade since the roadworks started last month, sent a deputation to the full council meeting to spell out their plight.

George Rendall, who runs art gallery and picture framers Art Et Facts, said the traders had suggested a voucher scheme to encourage people to use the local businesses based on a similar initiative which had been introduced to support businesses in Leith Walk hit by the tramworks.

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But he said: "We were told that's not appropriate because the tram works took so long there's no comparison."

Mr Rendall said the work at Roseburn was due to last for months and in 33 years trading there he had never known business to be so bad. "One week in February I made £44 for the whole week – that cannot be sustained.

"We are just asking for some assistance to get us through this.”

The roadworks are for the City Centre West to East Link, a cross-city cycle route.

Councillor Scott Douglas with Eva Papadaki and George Rendall

Cathie Purves, from upcycling shop Ruby Rose, said she had been in business for just two years. "I was hit by Covid and now I'm hit by this."

She said the small businesses in Roseburn were a vital part of the community. "But the way things are going some of us will not survive."

And Eva Papadaki of the Roseburn Cafe said the loss of loading and parking spaces meant some companies refused to deliver because there was nowhere they could stop safely. She said: "We need a little help and a little understanding."

Corstorphine/Murrayfield Tory councillor Scott Douglas called on the council to look into a compensation scheme, saying extra signage and social media advertising would not offset the huge impact the works had had on the trades’ incomes.

"The only way to guarantee the future viability of these businesses is to offer the financial support they need to see this period through.

“They didn’t choose for these works to start on their doorstep and it’s certainly not their fault that the recent discovery of asbestos will delay construction for several weeks but it’s them who are going to suffer as a result of that.”

Corstorphine/Murrayfield Lib Dem councillor Gillian Gloyer said traders had been told the works would start in April rather than February and had planned everything on that basis.

“That mistake alone has already had financial consequences. The cost of a modest business support scheme would be a fraction of one per cent of the overall budget – a simple voucher scheme like the one they’ve suggested could make the difference for some of these retailers between surviving until CCWEL is up and running or losing their businesses.”

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said she had met the traders and discussed some measures to help them, including signage and road markings. But she said offering compensation was “highly unusual”.

And she said: “The circumstances of the business compensation scheme for Leith Walk were entirely different. That was a completely unique scheme. It was done because the businesses had suffered severe disruption with no benefit and were about to enter a period of further disruption.”

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