Plea to support Leith traders impacted by tram works on Small Business Saturday

The public is being urged to support independent traders on Small Business Saturday as the spotlight is being shone on firms affected by the tram construction works.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 5:04 pm
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 5:06 pm
MSP Ben Macpherson is urging the public to support Constitution Street traders in Leith on Small Business Saturday

Edinburgh City Council has committed to investigate how it can do more to support small businesses after backing a motion by Labour Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron and is showcasing independent traders on Small Business Saturday tomorrow.

Residents and visitors are also being urged to show their support for traders around the tram construction works, particularly in the Constitution Street and Bernard Street area of Leith – with a message that sellers remain open for business.

Cllr Cameron, the council’s small business champion, said: “It’s hugely important that we encourage people to shop local and support small businesses, not just at Christmas but all year round.

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The council's small business champion, Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron and Stephanie Faulds from the Eco Larder

“As a council we’re committed to support small enterprises through Business Gateway and our procurement team use small businesses where they can. We’re always looking for new opportunities to help support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).”

Earlier this week, some businesses in Leith raised fears that their trade was likely to be impacted by the £207m tram extension works. The council is rolling out a £2.4m package of support for businesses including allowing customers to buy specially commissioned £5 itison vouchers that can redeem £10 worth of goods in participating businesses, with the scheme now up and running in 19 businesses in and around Constitution Street, including shops, bars and restaurants.

Alongside the itison scheme, the project has launched its own multimedia ‘open for business’ campaign to promote Constitution Street to residents and visitors as a place to eat, drink, shop and spend time.

SNP Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP, Ben Macpherson, is calling on locals to rally round and show support for the traders.

He said: “There is an excellent and diverse range of local businesses on and around Constitution Street – I know this not just because my constituency office is on the street but also because, like many others in Leith, I regularly shop in the area.

“The council’s support package for businesses affected by the tram works is in the process of being implemented, and I encourage the council’s various initiatives to be brought forward as quickly as possible. In the meantime, on Small Business Saturday there’s a great opportunity for all of us to show our support for the affected businesses on and around Constitution Street – by visiting the area for a drink or a coffee, to buy some Christmas presents or for something to eat. I will be and hope many others will too.”

Niall Taylor, owner of Nobles Café Bar and Restaurant on Constitution Street, said: “In the 10 years that we’ve been on Constitution Street we’ve seen a lot of change – it’s an ever evolving place and the tram coming down is just another part of that.

“Of course, I would love it if people continued to visit despite the disruption – customers are being very supportive, which is encouraging. I think that it would be truly saddening if any of these fantastic businesses didn’t survive to reap benefits of the trams when they finally start operating.”

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Small businesses thankful for support

Edinburgh independent traders are praising the Business Gateway support programme on Small Business Saturday for giving them a vital helping hand.

The Eco Larder crowdfunded £22,000 last year in order rl launch the Capital’s first dedicated zero waste shop.

Stephanie Faulds, from the Eco Larder, said: “Our aim is to help change consumer behaviour around packaging and plastic waste. We stock items that will help people to live a zero-waste lifestyle with items such as bamboo coffee cups and toothbrushes to cloth bags and nappies.

“We’ve made connections and links with many organisations including Business Gateway, which helped us to open the shop and they offer us valuable ongoing business support. They’ve supported us in a range of areas from intellectual property protection to digital, and innovation and we’re still working with our advisor to help us grow the business.”

Jon Cooper from Pekoe Tea, added: “We were delighted to have been in a position to expand and move into new premises on our tenth anniversary, creating two new jobs which will help take the business to the next level and thanks to everyone who has supported us along the way, including Business Gateway Edinburgh and Apollo Informal Investments.

“More and more clients want a UK-based tea manufacturing and blending company that has a respect for the origins and culture of the tea and that can prove it has a personal relationship with its tea growers around the world, which is something we’ve worked hard to achieve from the very start and are very proud of.”