Wet weather leaves a trail of destruction as businesses and individuals count the cost

The Meadows
The Meadows
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THOSE with long memories may well recall Wednesday, May 25, 1988 when the sun shone in Edinburgh for a record-breaking 15.7 hours, but those halcyon days seem along way off now as the Capital’s summer is declared a “washout”.

Since the start of June, 230mm of rain has been recorded at the Royal Botanic Garden’s Met Office weather station, compared with the usual average total for the summer months of between 150mm and 200mm. June also produced just 119 hours of sunshine – 25 per cent less than usual.

The Colonies

The Colonies

The reason offered by forecasters for the prolonged spell of bad weather is the jet stream lying further south than usual, bringing rain to us instead of our northern Scandinavian neighbours. And so, depressingly, more rain is expected.

As a result, city residents desperate to see some sun have started a stampede for the airport with travel firms reporting a sharp rise in holiday inquiries. Bill Munro, boss of Barrhead Travel, said: “People are literally walking up to our staff and saying: ‘Get me out of here.’ Many of them don’t seem to care too much where they are going, as long as it is warm, sunny and dry.”

Tour operator Thomson has reported a 20 per cent increase in holiday searches compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Taste of Edinburgh event in the Meadows have been left counting the cost after the annual event was cancelled last weekend. It is believed that set up costs alone were in the region of £750,000.

Justin Clarke, chief executive of Taste Festivals Limited, said: “It’s going to take some time for us to take stock of the financial picture. Despite the huge disappointment this year, we will be in discussion with all our partners over the next few weeks about plans for 2013.”

The cost of flood damage in the city is also presently being calculated by loss adjusters after the Water of Leith burst its banks flooding the Colonies in Stockbridge.

Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said: “While too early to be clear on the costs, nationally insured damage is running into the low hundreds of millions of pounds at the moment.

“Despite the fact that summer looks like being cancelled due to rain, insurers expect flooding and are dealing with flood claims from customers as quickly as possible throughout this washout summer. Top priority for insurers is to get flooded homes and businesses dried out and repaired as soon as possible, to help people recover from what is often a traumatic, distressing and expensive experience.”

One such city organisation looking to recover is Cricket Scotland, whose head ground at the Grange was under knee high water.

Scotland are expected to play a one day international against the auld enemy England on August 12, but the game is now in doubt, as too are games against Durham Dynamos on August 5 and Somerset on August 19. A spokeswoman said: “The ground has been severely flooded and we will have to monitor the situation in the coming weeks. There will have to be a major improvement in the weather in that time.

“Club matches have been decimated around the city which plays havoc with the league as these games are not rescheduled.”

Tennis clubs in the city are also being greatly affected by the conditions. Barnton Park Lawn Tennis Club president Jacqui Duncan said: “It has been a huge disappointment for us as we had hoped to capitalise on the Andy Murray effect, but the weather hasn’t played its part. We have 70 kids enrolled in summer camps over the coming weeks so it’s proved a challenge for our coaches dodging in and out of the clubhouse.”

The city’s bowlers have also been affected, with a whole host of fixtures called off due to the bad weather.

Popular city tourist attraction Gorgie City Farm is likewise feeling the effects following several weeks of almost continuous rainfall. Nim Kibbler, youth work officer at the farm, said: “We’ve been badly affected by the rain. Usually we would have over 100 visitors a day during the school holidays, but we are now seeing barely 30. We’re praying for a break in the weather as donations are well down.”

Last month’s Royal Highland Show at Ingliston is said to have seen 20,000 fewer visitors because of the weather. The Haddington Show – which was expected to draw crowds of 4500 – was called off earlier this month after torrential rain left the showground flooded. The Dalkeith Agricultural Show, which was due to take place tomorrow, has also been cancelled.

DIY stores and garden centres have seen trade hit by the weather. Farmers are also suffering. Douglas Ross, 69, who runs Wester Middleton farm near Gorebridge, said: “It’s not even a joke anymore – it’s hell. If I started talking about it I wouldn’t stop swearing until midnight. It’s past being bad, it’s past being a disaster. I’ve never seen this in my life.

“We’ve had to bring some of our cattle inside because their fields are so trampled it’s like T in the Park.

“Financially it will cost quite a lot. We have the expense of cattle inside to be fed and the quality of the winter feed will be poor, if we get it at all because we’ve not had any sun.”

However, despite the gloom, some people are staying optimistic. Graeme Birse, of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, is philosophical about the problem faced by city retailers.

He said: “The effect of the weather varies from business to business. Bad weather, of course, alters the mood as we all like to see sunshine, but so long as it’s not too wild it doesn’t seem to deter people from 
entering town.”

A spokesman for VisitScotland said: “Our research shows that people do not necessarily come to Edinburgh for its weather, but for the fantastic range of things to see and do which can be enjoyed come rain or shine.

“The summer may not have arrived yet, but it doesn’t mean that visitors won’t have a great time in Edinburgh.”