Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Covid parking restrictions are 'nail in coffin' for businesses

Morningside Road in Edinburgh
Image caption Edinburgh City Council suspended parking places apart from loading bays and disabled spaces on main roads on Monday

Temporary parking restrictions across Edinburgh to make way for social distancing measures have prompted a backlash from businesses.

One shop owner said streets looked like a "war zone" while another said it was "a nail in the coffin" for businesses.

City of Edinburgh Council suspended parking places apart from loading bays and disabled spaces on a number of roads on Monday.

The council said it was trying to create "welcoming spaces" for shoppers.

But some business owners said they had already noticed a drop in customers.

Large cones have been laid along the routes to give pedestrians room to walk along street gutters without being knocked down by cars.

The plan is for these cones to be replaced with more permanent barriers at a later stage.

Zahid Chaudhry, owner of florist and chocolatier Harvest Garden, which has been in Edinburgh's Church Hill area for 37 years, said: "Now with lockdown easing it felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel but it was too good to be true.

"When my customers want to collect their flower arrangements which can be quite heavy, especially for the elderly, are they expected to carry these items up and down the road?

"If my customers cannot easily access my business will they not go to the next easiest option, the supermarket which will more or less put the nail in the coffin of my business?

"Does expanding the pavement that is outside in the open fresh air really provide that much of a benefit? The pros and cons have not really been considered.

"Small businesses already decimated by the lockdown will be destroyed by this latest measure."

Image copyright Donald Nairn
Image caption Donald Nairn said the road outside his toy shop looked like a "war zone"

Donald Nairn, owner of Toys Galore on Morningside Road, said the move was "ridiculously stupid".

He said: "We cried when we heard this and were very upset. We were gasping for breath after being closed for three months and now our customers cannot park here.

"It looks like a war zone with the cones and the whole thing is stupid.

"When you tackle the council about it you learn their world view of things and their desire to protect the world of Covid. Putting cones isn't going to stop it, it's not going to make any difference and we had a collective heart attack about it.

"Nobody is using the extra space, it's just so the council can be seen to be doing something."

Image copyright Lesley Drummond
Image caption Lesley Drummond said her dress boutique, Vivaldi in Edinburgh's Church Hill, was already feeling the effects of the new parking measures

Lesley Drummond, owner of dress boutique Vivaldi in Edinburgh's Church Hill, said: "We have lost 43 out of 59 car parking spaces on the street. People are using the loading bays now which means deliveries can't get in.

"I've not had one customer today, which is highly unusual.

"I rely on passing trade from the cafes and delis bringing people into the area so if they die then I am dead too. It's a little ecosystem here."

Image copyright Mike Billinghurst
Image caption Mike Billinghurst, owner of 181 Delicatessen in Edinburgh's Bruntsfield, said it was "'not the right way forward"

Mike Billinghurst, owner of 181 Delicatessen in Edinburgh's Bruntsfield, said: "Shopkeepers have been very concerned about their future and then they are hit with this.

"The council has a one size fits all attitude and I think that is not the correct way forward.

"Shops were closed for 100 days and now with this new measure they are concerned and feel like they are being ignored.

"Lots of the public don't even know what the cones are for. It is ill-timed and is another blow to shops."

Image copyright Anne Ness
Image caption Anne Ness, secretary of the Morningside Traders Association, said she was worried about the effect of the parking restrictions on businesses

Anne Ness, owner of Houseproud of Morningside Home Hardware and secretary of the Morningside Traders Association, said: "I'm worried about the effect this is going to have on the business owners as it is exhausting coming out of lockdown and now we have to fight this when we should be focusing on our own businesses. It is very hard.

"There is an elderly population here and they need to be dropped off at the many hairdressers and other shops we have here but now they can't do that.

"This is one of the main arterial routes into the city and now it looks like a war zone.

"We are upset and worried about all this reduced parking."

Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, said: "We're in the process of introducing changes in shopping streets around the city which have been identified as key areas for improvement, as part of our Spaces for People programme.

"These measures are about supporting Edinburgh's economic recovery - creating welcoming spaces around shops, cafes, bars and restaurants will encourage people to spend time there, helping them to observe physical distancing while allowing room for queuing outside businesses.

"We have stated from the start that while full consultation is not possible, due to the emergency nature of these actions, we have been engaging with local stakeholders and relevant organisations throughout the process.

"The fact that the measures are temporary means we can tweak and improve them in response to the public's needs too."