MSP Ben Macpherson to support Leith business during tram construction

Ben Macpherson MSP has called for the support of local businesses while tram engineering constructions are in progress on Constitution Street.

Ben Macpherson MSP

The Scottish politician, who has worked in both the public and private sectors, visited Constitution Street this weekend with the purpose of assisting Leither shops, bars, and cafés, throughout the tram extension to Newhaven. 

The MSP said: “When there is disruption and Leithers that need our support, we work together to support them, and that is what I am asking you to do”.

Affected businesses have created the hashtag #StrongConstitution to support themselves while the roads are being closed due to the disruption. The intention is to emphasise that, despite the trams works, Leither companies still have new offers in place.

In fact, by using this hashtag, campaigners are committed to urging the city’s authorities to find practical solutions at the earliest convenience.

Hassam Hixhanj, who is the manager of Hideout Café on Queen Charlotte St, said that available hours for members of staff have inevitably been reduced in order to save revenue, since the tram projects are under development.

Hixhanj added: “The Edinburgh Council is trying to put some advertisement in the area to tell people that Constitution Street is open. The locals themselves are having meetings every Tuesday in Nobles Bar to discuss about any new strategies we could apply.”

One of the measures that is now being implemented on social media is the sale of £10 vouchers, within which £5 have already been covered by the Edinburgh Council.

The disruption in Leith will also cause several traffic diversions across the city, as well as interrupting the existing tram service line. The traffic diversions will be especially notable while the York Place tram stop is removed.

Colin Kerr, an engineer for Edinburgh Trams, said: “The existing tramway operation will be further impacted when the connection is made between the old infrastructure and the new. We will need to have enough trained drivers and create appropriate timetables.”

 Kerr added: “Outwith London, Edinburgh is the fastest growing city in the UK. It is only a matter of time before Edinburgh will not be able to be fully serviced by its bus company only. A fully integrated transport system needs to be created.”

According to the Edinburgh Council, access will be maintained to Kirkgate House from Laurie Street and to Coatfield Lane from Queen Charlotte Street. The Bernand Street, Baltic Street, Mitchell Street, Maritime Lane, and Queen Charlotte Street road crossings will also remain open.

Apart from the discounted vouchers, local authorities have a “Support for Business package” in operation, which will be set up on Mitchell Street to help with deliveries and dispatches. The project is supposed to assist residents who are expecting large deliveries, such as appliances or furniture.

Colin Kerr added that another essential reason for the trams is that “there are clear environmental targets to be achieved and trams are by far the greener option”.