There’s no shortage of issues to keep business folks awake in the middle of the night. How to pay next month’s salaries usually tops the insomnia list. But in recent times, a minor irritation has become something of a virulent infection. This is an apparent declaration of war by many Scottish councils on that most heinous of crimes: car parking. It seems to highlight the rather inept way our council mithers and faithers talk about ‘local consultation’.

Sure, we all get that zero carbon and low-emission zones are the way forward. But come on you local policymakers, please swallow a strong dose of common sense when it comes to double-yellows and potty parking restrictions.

Andrew Borthwick is a sensible and fair-minded chap. He is director of Glasgow Edinburgh Developments and chairman of Grant Stafford Borthwick. He is pleased that the tramline in Edinburgh is coming down Leith Walk and on to Newhaven. 

As a commercial landlord for more than 30 years his firm has provided office and studio space to more than 80 dynamic tenants in and around the Shore at Leith.

“I thought the trams would be the culmination of the transformation of Leith from the rundown, post-industrial port it was, to the vibrant and urban quarter it has become. But now, not long after recovering from the pandemic, we are facing new and massive disruption. This time, from Edinburgh City Council,” he tells me. 

Borthwick says it is virtually impossible for anyone (barring local residents, which is fair enough) to park beyond Great Junction Street. 

“We host a huge variety of tenants: architects, graphic designers, music producers, film makers, beauticians, artists, accountants, tattooists, nail salons, jewellery makers, nursing companies, surveyors, gyms, physios and injury specialists – the list goes on. And everyone is worried about their businesses: their staff, their customers, their clients. Why? Because there is no pay-to-park provision for any visitors. Just double-yellow lines and permit-holder spaces.” 

Business permits are available but restricted. Borthwick says 70 businesses, many based in Leith for more than 20 years, have been “paralysed overnight” because they require vehicles to deliver and pick up materials, and also for customers to visit them.

“I say overnight, because not even one of our tenants received the opportunity to engage with, comment on or object to this new ‘controlled parking zone’ that is Leith. The council states it leafletted ‘all businesses’ it believed to be affected in October 2021; not one of our 80 businesses, over a range of addresses, received a leaflet, or any engagement from the council to date.”

Borthwick’s business is sending official objections, backed by his tenants, to the council, in the hope that it will work to improve the situation across Leith. We hope they listen. Until then, he says, it will be easier to park in George Street in the centre of Edinburgh than in Leith.