True cost of closure of Forth Road Bridge

Police were called to the bridge on Tuesday.
Police were called to the bridge on Tuesday.

Last week’s news that the Forth Road Bridge opening earlier than first thought was a Christmas bonus to many people.

However, to some businesses in South Queensferry the damage had already been done.

Many of those firms in the town are independent, run by individuals and suffered greatly at the closure of the bridge.

Paul Steward, owner of The Boathouse restaurant, was one of the many sole traders who lost out during the month of December, which is supposed to be his busiest.

He said: “It was like someone had turned the tap off. No one could come from Fife and in Edinburgh people thought the M9 was out of use.

“However during this period it was actually the best time to visit.”

Paul was unhappy at what he believes was a slow reaction from Edinburgh City Council.

He said: “There was a lot of noise about Edinburgh being open but not much for South Queensferry.”

A local group, I Love South Queensferry, was started but Paul felt it was too late.

He said: “I am in no way critical of the group, it is fantastic but it should have came from the council or the Government, not the locals.

“We have been playing catch up since then.”

Edinburgh Council economic development convener, Councillor Frank Ross, said: “I have every sympathy with our local independent traders whose businesses rely heavily on seasonal spend and I wanted to ensure the Council reaches out to this vital business community.

“I instructed the Council’s chief executive to send a letter of support to traders, and I have been meeting one-to-one with representatives from the local Business Improvement District to offer my support.”

Paul believes that during the closure he was 30 to 40 per cent down on trade but still had to pay full rates to the council.

He said: “The small businesses are not the only ones affected. With less income staff hours had to be cut to limit the loss.”

Paul is hoping there will be compensation made available for small businesses affected by the closure.