Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 18:32 UK

Traders create tram action group

Leith Walk tram works
Tram works on Leith walk have been happening for nine months

Traders hit hard by tram works in two Edinburgh streets are forming an action committee after claiming they have suffered losses since workmen moved in.

Leith traders said they have had a "nine-month tram nightmare" since parts of the road were dug up to move pipes ahead of tram tracks being laid.

The Federation of Small Businesses is backing the move and a meeting is due to be held on Tuesday evening.

Tram builder, Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, welcomed the forum plans.

Trams boss Willie Gallagher, the executive chairman of Tie, which is masterminding Edinburgh's 600m plus tram scheme, has agreed to attend a crisis meeting to form a traders' association in Leith Walk and Constitution Street.

We look forward to establishing an early relationship with the association so as to work together in a positive manner
Willie Gallagher

MSPs and leading Edinburgh councillors will also attend the meeting.

Gordon Burgess, who owns a bed shop in Leith Walk, said: "It's been a nightmare for traders since the workmen moved in.

"Now, with ever more tram works in the streets, it is far, far worse and it seems that every day another business in trouble comes to our attention and asks for help.

"Businesses are reporting trading reductions in excess of 1,000 per week, turnover losses, staff being laid off and, worse still, personally guaranteed overdrafts reaching their limit.

"This situation simply cannot be allowed to go on. All that is being offered to small businesses during the tram construction are platitudes and weak excuses."

Mr Gallagher, said: "Tie welcomes this development on Leith Walk and look forward to working with the newly-formed group.

"It is certainly a move that Tie has encouraged as our experience of working with organised groups of businesses, such as those representing the West End and Princes Street, is very positive.

"We look forward to establishing an early relationship with the association so as to work together in a positive manner."

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