Edinburgh pub landlord Daniel McNally says tourists like to use their outdoor seating areas

Critics are wrong to claim tourists hate Edinburgh's outdoor eating areas, says one Old Town publican.

By Ian Swanson
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:55 am

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

In fact European visitors to the Capital are the ones most likely to be found using the decking outside many establishments, said Daniel McNally, who runs The Scotsman’s Lounge in Cockburn Street.

He rejected the suggestion from Old Town community council member John Mitchell, reported in Monday's Evening News, that the temporary structures were harming the city's appeal to tourists.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The Scotsman's Lounge employs security to stop after-hours partying in their outdoor seating

"He says every tourist that comes to Edinburgh hates it, but it's actually the tourists who are using it.

"I'd say 99 per cent of the people using it are tourists. They feel comfortable sitting outside, they're used to outdoor things.

"If you go to Prague, which is also a World Heritage Site, there are outdoor places everywhere there.

"Anyone that comes from most European countries is used to outdoor structures. I've been to Copenhagen before the pandemic. It's a lot colder than Scotland, but everyone sits outdoors. They have little tartan blankets for people to put over their legs."

Mr Mitchell also complained about noise from people using the outdoor seating areas to party until 3 or 4am and claimed there were vermin underneath the decking.

But Mr McNally said there were definitely no vermin under his decking. "We don't sell any food and we don't put our rubbish outside. We definitely don't have any. There's no rubbish under ours."

And he said there had never been any trouble in his outdoor area because he paid for after-hours security.

"We've had the decking for about nine months and we've never had licensing, police or environmental wardens or anybody out to us. We care about our neighbours and want to work with them. That's why I have security on till 3am.”

Councillors are today due to consider applications for six temporary structures in Cockburn Street to be made permanent, along with another three in the High Street.

The Old Town community council, Cockburn Association and Edinburgh World Heritage are all opposed to the move and officials are recommending refusal, though no enforcement action will be taken to close down the outdoor areas pending discussion about any extension of the relaxation of rules during the pandemic.

Mr McNally has made clear he is only seeking permission for the outdoor area to remain until September 30, but was told by the council applying for a permanent structure was the only way to do it.

"All I ever wanted was to be the same as the rest of the UK and get it until September. It will help us get back on our feet again.”

He said when restrictions were in force he was only allowed 22 people inside the pub and the outdoor seating had been crucial to the survival of his business.

Graham Blaikie, national president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said outdoor seating areas had been a lifeline for many pubs and he argued businesses still needed a helping hand to recover from the pandemic.

"We’ve had a very difficult period over the last two years and it’s going to be a tough year ahead with VAT going up and inflation on the rise.

"These seating areas are important for income, but also give a good vibe. Most major cities have them.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.