Portobello wheel planned to become annual seaside attraction

The controversial wheel will open to visitors on Monday

Monday, 24th August 2020, 7:30 am
The Portobello wheel could become a summer fixture on the Edinburgh coast

The controversial Portobello wheel could become an annual summer fixture on the shores of Edinburgh, the operator John Thomson said.

Confusion surrounded the wheel after the council suspended a temporary licence for the wheel, claiming it had been granted ‘in error’, and was constructed amid complaints from neighbours about an invasion to privacy.

However, following “progressive talks” with the council, it was announced that the ride will open to the public from 11am this morning and will be open to the public until August 30, a notice from officers confirmed.

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Mr Thomson, who had described the decision to suspend the licence as “unfair” said he was delighted the ride would be able to operate and said he hoped the wheel could become a summer fixture on the Portobello seafront.

Speaking to the Evening News, Mr Thomson said he hoped the wheel would reinvigorate the area and bring more tourists and visitors to Portobello in future years if it was allowed to be sited there each summer.

He said: “Going forward, our plan long term is to site the wheel here during the summer months. Portobello is a great location and it will help support the local economy and bring people to the area.

"There was a bit of upset from local residents and there was a poll done on the local Facebook page Porty People which showed two thirds supported the wheel, and only 15 per cent wanted it ‘not anywhere at no time’. Those results are incredible.

“Anywhere there will be people who have an opinion on it as to whether it should be there or not.

"We want to bring people to Portobello, it’s not a quick fix for us. A potential siting here will only benefit the amusements and the whole town so long term that is our goal.”

Mr Thomson added that he was a “wee bit shocked” the council had decided to overturn the decision.

He said: “I am really delighted that the right decision has been made by the council. We were a wee bit shocked that the decision was overturned.

"The council has been great and the local councillor has been instrumental in getting the decision overturned. There have been good progressive talks and those have led to this decision which is obviously the right decision.”

The wheel, which was originally meant to open between August 3 and August 24, will now reopen with social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures in place, Mr Thomson confirmed.

He said: “Social distancing will obviously be paramount. We have already had people in place who have cleaned the wheel but our staff will be doing regular cleaning and hand sanitising stations will be placed around the attraction including from when you buy the ticket to when you leave the ride.

"The public will not be in contact with any other member of the public and all the staff will have face masks.”

As part of their attraction in Portobello, free rides were being offered to NHS staff and carers with valid ID between the hours of 11am and 12pm with NHS workers able to bring one friend or family member on the ride with them for free.

Officers from the council’s Public Safety Team will carry out a final inspection to ensure that the ride is safe including any issue about the operation impacting other properties.

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