Page last updated at 07:50 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 08:50 UK
Trams project enters latest phase

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland news website, Edinburgh and East reporter

Shandwick Place
Shopkeepers say Shandwick Street is now deserted

Businesses in an Edinburgh street which has been closed for tram works say the disruption has cut their takings by up to 60%.

Shandwick Place, a busy thoroughfare in the west end of the city, has been shut since 1 March so pipes can be moved.

Shop owners said they have been forced to hold sales in an attempt to attract custom.

Most of the firms are not eligible for the 4,000 compensation grant because they are in a higher rates bracket.

The road will be closed until August for the pipe works, but will only be open for a month before track work begins on the route linking Newhaven with Edinburgh Airport.

I bumped into one of my customers who said they were going to come for a meal until they saw road signs saying Shandwick place was closed
Tony Pia
La Piazza

Tony Pia, who has owned La Piazza in Shandwick Place for 11 years, said he was refusing to pay rates until Edinburgh City Council started helping the businesses in the area.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "I have cancelled my direct debits to the council as it is the only thing which is going to get their attention.

"In the first few weeks of the road being closed I am down 40% in takings, which is extremely upsetting when there is no back-up from the council.

"I bumped into one of my customers who said they were going to come for a meal until they saw road signs saying Shandwick place was closed, so they made different plans.

"The council needs to advertise that all the businesses are still open for business and find a place where customers can park so they can come here."

Ali Yertutmazlar of Fabiano
Fabiano owner Ali Yertutmazlar has seen takings plummet

Gordon Sutherland, who has owned Fast Frame in Shandwick Place for 12 years, said he was holding a sale in his shop in a bid to attract customers.

He said: "I am down 50% because of the tram works. How is anyone meant to live off half of their business income?

"Can you imagine someone deciding to take 50% of your wages on the promise of a better job in 2011?

"I know you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs but we should have compensation as it's like we are being punished for something which we have nothing to do with."

Ali Yertutmazlar, who has owned Fabiano for two years, said it was "like a ghost city" since the road was closed.

He said: "I am down 50 to 60%, which I feel very upset about. We are having a tram sale as a result with everything reduced by up to 70%.

"There really needs to be a freeze on rates as I pay 2,000 a month and with nobody coming in I can't afford to pay them.

"People think the shop is closed because the road is blocked so we need the council to help us."

David Liddle of Baguette Express
Baguette Express manager David Liddle said takings were down 25%

David Liddle, manager of Baguette Express, said his takings were down 25%.

He said: "I didn't think it would be as bad as it is. We are going to have to work even longer hours during the Edinburgh Festival when the road is open again to make up some of the loss."

Some shoppers who use the street have also voiced concerns about the effect of the roadworks.

Betty MacInnes, 78, from Dalkeith, said: "I was travelling by bus to Shandwick Place to buy some towels when it changed direction and drove right past.

"I got such a fright because I didn't know where it was taking me and I didn't know anything about the street being closed.

"It took me past the Usher Hall and I'm not fit to walk all that way back.

"My father was a tram driver in Edinburgh and I think trams are more comfortable than buses but I do think it is ridiculous that they are doing all the building work at once."

Willie Gallagher, executive chairman of Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie), said: "For Shandwick Place an open for business logistics team has been put in place and their job is to ensure that all scheduled deliveries to and from businesses on Shandwick Place take place as normal.

"Secondly, all businesses on Shandwick Place will receive a 20% reduction in their business rates whilst the utilities diversions are taking place."

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