City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh's Town Centres Team On Award Shortlist

By edg - Posted on 29 June 2012

Bruntsfield - from top of a bus

Given the monstrous mismanagement of the Edinburgh trams project, and all the accompanying pain the saga has brought citizens over the years, it's sometimes a surprise to learn that actually parts of our local authority are quite respected by their profession.

The Association of Town Centre Management, a national body that has been involved with the push to rejuvenate town centres and high streets, has just included Edinburgh in its shortlist for its annual awards in the 'Best UK Town Centre Team or Town Centre Partnership'.

The awards recognise best practices in town centre management, in particular efforts to galvanise the ailing high street at a time when they are struggling from the combined downward pressures of recession, and loss of business from out-of-town superstores and online shopping (40% of purchases are forecast to be made online by 2020).

The five nominees from town management teams across the UK are:

  1. Edinburgh
  2. London Borough of Havering
  3. Staines
  4. Rochdale
  5. Wigan

The award looks for a “Town Team” that has (in retail guru Mary Portas words) “a visionary, strategic and strong operational management team for high streets.”

The ATCM site says: "This award recognises the management initiative that demonstrates excellence in strategy and implementation or successful outcomes in one or more of these areas."

Edinburgh's Nine

In August 2009 Edinburgh Council approved the “Building Stronger Town Centres for Edinburgh”. It implemented a plan to develop nine designated town centres, making them more pedestrian-friendly, accessible, and generally inviting.

The nine are:

  1. Corstorphine
  2. Gorgie/Dalry
  3. Leith Central
  4. Leith Walk
  5. Morningside/Bruntsfield
  6. Nicolson Street/Clerk Street
  7. Portobello
  8. Stockbridge
  9. Tollcross

The town centres employ over 25,000 people in the immediate area and around 198,000 people live within 800 metres of one.

The council team is made up of town centre coordinators who work closely with the Federation of Small Businesses, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, BIDs Scotland, local traders, all Council departments and other external partners.

According to the Council figures, the Town Centre team has been successful for "its support in driving up footfall and increasing spend" in the centres through "a series of low cost, high impact promotional activities".

"Our aim is to have vibrant town centres which create and retain jobs and attract new investment enhancing civic pride," said Cllr Tom Buchanan, Convener of the Economic Development Committee.

These initiatives have taken the form of street "clean-ups", displaying local art in empty units, a shop window competition, public information boards, and producing street banners. These small community-building operations have helped the town centres keep below the Scottish average vacancy rate of 15.4%.

The team also helped to secure a 'Yes' vote for South Queensferry to become a Business Improvement District (BID) this month and are now helping the Grassmarket area through the same process.

It has also helped some of Edinburgh's 80 identifed local centres including the Royal Mile, West End, Thistle Street, Roseburn, and Easter Road.

The award winners will be announced at a dinner in Bristol on Tuesday, 3 July 2012.