Top Edinburgh business figures back BID initiative for Old Town

Firms would pay levy to fund promotion and improvement schemes

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 6:00 am
Martin Clarke said he had seen the success of Essential Edinburgh first hand

PROMINENT city business leaders have publicly backed plans for a Business Improvement District in Edinburgh’s Old Town ahead of the voting deadline on November 28.

They are urging other businesses in the area to support the proposals from Original Edinburgh, a collaborative project formed to take the initiative forward.

The plan would see all businesses in the designated area paying an annual levy, according to their rateable value, and the resulting money being invested in schemes to promote and improve the Old Town.

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Rachel Gregson says having a BID would allow the area to flourish and develop

Original Edinburgh has set out a series of projects it would launch if the BID gets the go-ahead in the ballot.

They include appointing street ambassadors to welcome and direct visitors - an idea already in operation in several UK cities.

Original Edinburgh also proposed extra street cleaning, improved lighting, graffiti clearing and an information-sharing scheme among businesses to combat shoplifting. The plans involve a package of investment initiatives worth nearly £4 million over five years.

Nearly 700 firms are entitled to vote on the BID. Ballot papers went out last month.

Aga Firat argues a BID would allow the Old Town's voice to be heard

Tony Crolla of the Vittoria Group, who has eight restaurants around the city, gave his endorsement to the initiative.

He said: “I’ve read carefully the proposals put forward by Original Edinburgh to establish a BID in the Old Town.

“I’ve also looked at the evidence on the impact of BIDs elsewhere in Scotland and the UK. I’m confident that my investment in Original Edinburgh will help transform the local business environment for the benefit of everyone.”

Martin Clarke, of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, pointed to the experience of the New Town BID, run by Essential Edinburgh, as an example for the Old Town.

“The Original Edinburgh business plan makes a compelling case; pointing to many of the challenges experienced by those who trade, work and indeed live in the area, and offering solutions. I have seen first-hand what a successful BID can bring through Essential Edinburgh and I am confident that given the mandate Original Edinburgh can deliver for all who share the Old Town.”

Support also came from Rachel Gregson of Bruce Taverns, which owns a wide range of pubs and bars in the Old Town. She said: “Having a BID to advocate for businesses will allow the area to flourish and develop in a sensible way.”

And Aga Firat, owner of Cafe Coburn, The Wall Coffee and the Design House, said: “A single voice, speaking on behalf of many of our businesses, will be more effective and have more impact than many smaller efforts all saying slightly different things. A BID can help ensure our voices are heard in the decisions that will affect us.”

Original Edinburgh says BIDs elsewhere have had a positive impact on the local economy, Essential Edinburgh generating £23.7m benefit over the last five years and reducing thefts and Falkirk investing £2.6m in the town centre and giving out £100,000 in small business grants.