Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

'Walking through Edinburgh now makes me sad'

Donald Anderson Image copyright Kirsty Anderson
Image caption Donald Anderson said we need to get back on track and do it as safely and quickly as possible

For seven years Donald Anderson worked to make Edinburgh a vibrant and buzzing place as the capital's council leader.

But now, walking along Princes Street two weeks after he started back to work in the centre, he said it had been a "profoundly depressing experience" and said the sooner the capital got "back to normal the better".

He said he was acutely aware at every turn in the the capital that businesses were "losing money and livelihoods were at stake".

Mr Anderson, who now works in South St Andrew Street as a communications consultant, said the centre of Edinburgh was not the place he once governed.

"I think it's a deeply sad experience to go through the centre of Edinburgh and see it devoid of people," he said.

"There is none of the hustle and bustle and you don't hear much either, it's an unnatural environment for a city.

"I'm very proud of Edinburgh and like being stopped for directions and often walk with people to show them the way as I enjoy the experience, but there is none of that now.

"There is nobody taking photographs, no pavement cafes and no fun, I miss that."

Image copyright Kirsty Anderson
Image caption Mr Anderson said it was "deeply depressing" to see his city looking so sad

He said he missed the tourists and buzz he normally got when he was in Edinburgh city centre.

"I miss overhearing the different languages and accents in the street from tourists and it has been a profoundly depressing experience to walk along Princes Street and see how dead it is," he said.

"For Princes Street to be like this is unbelievable, I've never seen it like this before.

"It's a place where people come together and businesses make money and now that isn't happening.

"The sooner we get back to normality the better."

Image copyright Kirsty Anderson
Image caption Mr Anderson is concerned about the impact of the lockdown on the city's economy

Although the Scottish government said shops could reopen on 29 June, Mr Anderson, who was the City of Edinburgh Council leader until 2006, said he was very concerned about the impact of the lockdown on the city's economy.

He said: "Yes, we have a date but how many shops will have survived and what kind of economy will we have left when we open up?

"We need to get back on track and do it as safely and quickly as humanly possible.

"We need to get the economy moving again. We need people back supporting the businesses safely.

"I can't understand the inconsistency how some shops selling food have been allowed to open but others have had to wait."

Image copyright Kirsty Anderson

He added: "I'm acutely aware that at every turn in the city there are businesses losing money and livelihoods are at stake.

"We are better off if we get back to the way we used to be."

Shops with doors onto the street can open from 29 June in Scotland.

However, shopping centres in Scotland must remain shut.

Shops and shopping centres reopened in England on Monday.