Getting the essentials right for a great capital city
A year from today we will be seeking approval from Edinburgh city centre’s business community to deliver a range of projects, services and improvements to our city centre over the following five years.
Over the decade of its existence to date, the city centre Business Improvement District, or BID, has already helped generate positive change and seen the private sector invest millions of pounds that would not otherwise have been available.
The 600 or so businesses which make up our levy-payers understand and appreciate the role they play in ensuring our wonderful city centre continues to be hugely successful – just as they understand the role a successful city centre plays in their business.
It is a “virtuous circle” of activity I am very hopeful we will see continue for another five years as we move into our renewal ballot process.
Over the course of our second term we have worked exceptionally hard to make a significant impact on our city centre by the delivery of a major advertising campaign, This is Edinburgh; the delivery of a wide range of events to support footfall, and ensuring we act as an ambassador, lobby group and support mechanism for all our businesses.
Through enhanced security campaigns, additional street cleaning, providing all the Christmas lights in the city centre and animating key public spaces at different times of the year we strive to add value for everyone who works, visits and enjoys the centre of our capital.
As we head into a new five-year plan we have consulted widely and listened to the views of all our partners to put together a draft plan that will form the basis of our final proposals. The issues that have come forward as the key ones to address include:
-Maintaining a clean and attractive city centre with increased cleaning services and high quality city dressing throughout the year;
-A city centre marketing campaign focussed specifically on showcasing the BID area;
-Improved “way-finding” throughout the city centre;
-Animation and management of public space during the Festival periods;
-Addressing issues caused by begging and homelessness in positive partnership with Police Scotland and the third sector charities ;
-Additional policing resources in the city centre.
Our city centre is also changing and in recent times we have supported and worked in partnership with many organisations and developers who are investing significantly in Edinburgh. As Edinburgh St James rises from the ground, we have the new Standard Life Investments building being occupied on St Andrew Square alongside the impressive The Registers development and the soon-to-start redevelopment of the BHS store on Princes Street. We will continue to work proactively to support new “public realm” on Rose Street and George Street as well as add support to the exciting developments in Princes Street Gardens.
With the well-documented financial challenges being faced by our local authority, Essential Edinburgh is seeking opportunities to attract new investment and deliver additional services in the city centre – this approach has to be one of partnership and we are well placed to deliver this with the new council administration and other partners following the elections in May.
For example, our initiative to help businesses improve waste collection has seen participating businesses benefit in a number of ways – in particular through reduced costs and a more tailored service. The city centre environment has also gained, through reduced waste lorry trips, fewer bins and increased recycling.
A new plan and a fresh term to look forward to gives Essential Edinburgh a time to reflect on the past five years and refocus our energies on key issues that our members want us to focus on.
We need to be bold and progressive in our approach and look to lead and represent the business community to enhance our city centre. We are privileged to work and live in a wonderful city, but there are many issues that need to be addressed and that needs organisations across the city to work together and not in isolation.
The new City Vision will help drive this but it is people who will make it happen. Essential Edinburgh will continue to work ambitiously for, with and on behalf of the business community at the heart of our capital.
Roddy Smith, Chief Executive of Essential Edinburgh