The City of Edinburgh Council is exploring extra measures for promoting footfall to the Capital's local businesses.
Detailed in a report to be considered at Tuesday's Full Council meeting (28 July), additional ideas for supporting business include a multi-media promotional campaign to encourage residents and visitors to shop local, floral planters to enhance local high streets and the option of 'green deliveries' for people unable to shop in person, thanks to the use of cargo bikes.
Subject to funding, these could form the latest moves in a string of immediate measures developed or supported by the Council to address local priorities as lockdown restrictions ease.
This work to help businesses in Edinburgh bounce back after lockdown has already included:
- Supporting businesses to gradually re-open safely with a 'Ready, Set, Go' advice service, including guidance provided to 20,000 business owners
- A more flexible approach to licensing to help more businesses apply to use outdoor space
- Accelerating plans to use the Council's supply chains to better support local business and stimulate economic growth
- Creating more space for people to travel to businesses safely and enjoyably through the Council's Spaces for People initiative, with priority being given to support walking, cycling, wheelchair use and prams
- Awarding more than 9,000 Coronavirus Business Support Grants to local businesses during the pandemic worth around £112.5m
- Supporting planned promotional activity with the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group to gradually market the City as an attractive place for shopping, dining out and visiting with a £55,000 contribution from the Council
- Working on a Champions network to enable Council officers to engage directly with local businesses on what further support the Council could provide.
All of the above measures are part of the Council’s work to prioritise a sustainable economic recovery - a key strand of Edinburgh’s strategy to adapt and renew as the city emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic. Other measures taken include enhancing the support offered to those who have become unemployed as a result of Covid-19 as well as accelerating the building of affordable homes across the city, alongside sustainable regeneration at strategic locations.
Adam McVey, Council Leader, said: "We're starting to see more and more local businesses re-open their doors to customers and it’s fantastic to see Edinburgh full of life and activity once again.
"We've put a lot of measures in place to help our City with this transition out of lockdown so that it is as safe, accessible and enjoyable as possible, and we're continuing to advise thousands of Edinburgh-based business owners on how to operate in line with national guidance.
"This remains a challenging time for our small businesses but I'm confident that we can build on the momentum we've seen recently. The report responds to calls being made by local businesses for extra measures and is part of our plan to work hard with the business community to drive footfall back to our local high streets in the coming months."
Cammy Day, Depute Leader, said: "So many businesses rely on visitors for an income but we recognise the sector will need time to recover. That's why it's so important we do what we can to help kickstart local footfall to businesses and explore even more promotional activity tailored to our town centres.
"This report highlights just how many steps we've already taken to support local businesses, and I'm looking forward to seeing us build on this even further. The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group is also developing a targeted tourism campaign which we hope will help to draw local people back into the City as we gradually leave lockdown, helping us see the return of our visitor economy.”