Edinburgh roadworks: Roseburn Terrace traders could receive compensation over construction of new cycle route
Traders in Roseburn are “delighted” after councillors agreed to look at paying them compensation for some of the business they have lost due to construction work on a new cycle route outside their shops.
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George Rendall, who runs art gallery and picture framers Art Et Facts on Roseburn Terrace, said he was pleased at the decision, which came after the traders told councillors how their income had fallen dramatically, some shops had closed and others believed they might follow.
He said: “We don’t know what we’re going to get yet, but we’re happy they have listened to us and agreed to try to help.”
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A previous motion to the council calling for a compensation scheme was rejected in March, but Lib Dem Euan Davidson, elected in May in Corstorphine/Murrayfield, proposed the move again at the full council and support from all sides.
The traders told the meeting by videolink the disruption from the roadworks for the City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL) cycle route was having a huge effect on Roseburn Terrace.
One trader, Niall Menzies, said: “When people don’t shop we struggle and we’ve been struggling since spring. One month in and work stopped – possible asbestos. It took four weeks to get someone in to say the amount was so small work shouldn’t have stopped in the first place.
"We needed customers to get used to coming back to us post-lockdown and that was beginning to happen. Instead they’re now getting used to going somewhere else. Waiting for a year would have helped us. This work is ill-timed, non-essential, putting unnecessary strain on us at a difficult time.
"I had to borrow money to keep us going. Work stopped for July and August and we started to see an increase. The day the barriers went up again two Mondays ago we took in £26. We need help now.”
Cllr Davidson said many of the shops were highly dependent on passing traffic. “We are facing the loss of successful businesses that survived the pandemic,” he said, “They are the lifeblood of Roseburn.
"All we’re asking for is support to carry our community through this tricky transition while the project is completed. The council has already done this in places like Leith Walk and Haymarket previously.”
He acknowledged concern about setting a precedent. But he said: “We’re not talking about regular roadworks.
"There’s clearly a different impact when we’re talking about these large-scale infrastructure projects that last for months and even years. These businesses will have had this impact for almost an entire years if the completion is on time.”
Also agreed was the SNP’s call for principles to be established governing potential future schemes to compensate businesses for disruption from infrastructure projects.
Corstorphine/Murrayfield SNP councillor Frank Ross said there ought to be consistency in how the council approached the issue. He said: "It’s not acceptable that items such as compensation are budgeted for in some projects and not in others.”
And he acknowledged businesses could benefit from improvements in walking and cycling infrastructure. But he said: “The benefits an only be reaped if businesses survive during the construction to the point that the benefits arise. And we’ve seen businesses fail in Roseburn during this construction period."
Cllr Ross said there would be a cost for the compensation scheme. But he said: “The traders have previously attempted to engage with the council, demonstrating how they could assist in designing and delivering a scheme.
"During my 10 years-plus in the council I have seen papers brought forward about unexpected costs and where these projects are favoured the paper always contains the words ‘can be met from existing budgets’. I would suggest this should be a favoured project.”