The City of Edinburgh Council along with Marketing Edinburgh have pledged to support local businesses in the South Queensferry area, which are among those worst affected by the sudden closure of the Forth Road Bridge a week ago today.
The City has also promised to cease all major roadworks in the city and to put on extra bus and tram services for those whose commute has been severely disrupted as a result of the closure.
The scheme, overseen by the Council’s Economic Convener Frank Ross, aims to help ease the negative impacts that the Bridge closure has had on the area, in terms of diverting potential customers from the area. Mr. Ross said: “ME is in direct liaison with Maggie Mitchell the CEO of Queensferry Ambition and CEC to create content to promote SQ to locals as a great place to visit, shop, eat, drink and enjoy in the lead up to Christmas. And with the reduction in Forth Rd Bridge traffic it’s now even quicker and easy to get to SQ.
‘The content will for part of a plan between ME and SQ and will be used across thisisedinburgh.com and the social media channels to drive additional visitors and customers to this gem of an area of the city.’
John Donnelly, Chief Executive Marketing Edinburgh agreed: “The Forth Road Bridge closure, particularly at this traditionally busy time of year is unfortunately having an impact on local independent business in South Queensferry.
‘Along with our sympathy to business owners, it is Marketing Edinburgh and the City of Edinburgh Council’s responsibility to take proactive action to support them and encourage visitors and locals to get out and enjoy the town’s rich festive offering.’
Mr Donelly said that it is vital to ensure that businesses in the South Queensferry Area remain open and active over the traditionally busy festive period: ‘Marketing Edinburgh will be working closely with City of Edinburgh Council and the Queensferry Ambition, to ensure we amplify the message that South Queenferry’s many quality retailers, bars and restaurants are open for business and never looked better.’
The council also plans to provide assistance regarding the various transport issues that have arisen in the wake of the bridge closure, with Edinburgh Trams and Stagecoach Buses working together in order to provide extra connections between Islington and either the city center or the airport.
The news comes as ScotRail and Stagecoach similarly pledged to offer more services to those coming to Edinburgh from Fife. Yesterday, it was reported that an elderly man collapsed on an overcrowded train from Edinburgh Waverley Station yesterday.
This morning, the station was quieter than usual, yet several trains inbound from the Fife Circle were still busier than usual. One passenger coming from Kirkcaldy said: ‘Coming through isn’t really the problem, it’s more getting back. Staff are doing all they can, I think. The problems seem to come from some people [other passenger] who simply aren’t giving other enough room.’
The closure of the road bridge has been a heavy blow for many businesses in South Queensferry in the run up to Christmas. One restaurant, Miller & Carter Cramond Brig, revealed on Wednesday to the Edinburgh Evening News that they were on track to lose as much as £50,000 over Christmas.
The proposal by the Council and Marketing Edinburgh has been met with positive support from many businesses in the area, with Mr. Ross stating that ‘…the majority, if not all, businesses have been very supportive’. A spokesperson for Railbridge Bistro, who did not wish to be identified, welcomed the plan: ‘We’re happy to participate in any kind of scheme that attracts more customers to our business.
‘To be fair, while our figures are obviously quite a bit down from last year, and some of our competitors are doing better this Christmas in terms of attracting customers, we’re not doing as bad as some other businesses in the area. The weather tends to affect us more than the bridge, to be honest.’
The Council has advised that more information regarding the scheme shall be posted on thisisedinburgh.com along with further details of any businesses that become involved over the coming weeks.
Marketing For Edinburgh Press Office spokesperson, Katy Allison, revealed that various campaigns throughout the city will be running, including poster campaigns and frequent social media updates in the run up to Christmas, detailing various events throughout South Queensferry.
An example of the social media activity include blog posts highlighting different aspects of South Queensferry, such as: Top 5 Things to do in South Queensferry This Christmas; The Alternative Christmas, which highlights family trips and tours in the area; and Spend Christmas by the Sea, which details various eating and drinking hotspots.