A CAMPAIGN has been launched to repair the “severely damaged” image of Gorgie and Dalry in the wake of the deadly legionnaires’ outbreak.
Fears have been raised that the legionella crisis, which has so far claimed the lives of three people and attracted worldwide media coverage, could harm businesses and the perception of the area.
But Pol Steele, who runs a community website for Gorgie, Dalry and the south west Edinburgh area, is asking residents, politicians and businesses to join his fight to restore its reputation.
Mr Steele told a launch meeting yesterday that he wants to organise a minute’s silence across the Gorgie area for the three people who have died from legionnaires’ disease and to investigate a permanent memorial to the deceased.
Kicking off the Beyond the Outbreak campaign yesterday, Mr Steele said: “When the Scottish Cup final results came through you couldn’t have stayed in a happier place. Then within a matter of days the outbreak started and things changed quite rapidly.
“The whole idea is to look at some of the problems Gorgie and Dalry has faced. It’s probably one of the biggest problems to ever hit the area.”
Mr Steele believes that the area’s reputation as a place to live, work and visit has been left “severely damaged” as a result of the outbreak, which it is believed originated from cooling towers in the area.
He added: “There’s been a real Blitz spirit, despite concerns over the length of time it took to distribute information and find the source of the outbreak.
“It’s the same place but people coming to Edinburgh for the Fringe and looking for accommodation might see Gorgie and say, ‘that’s where the outbreak was’. Restaurants might be facing similar problems.
“It’s to let people outside know it’s business as usual.”
Mr Steele hopes to set up a community response team in the coming weeks.
As well as the minute’s silence and memorial proposals, the group is also planning to design and distribute leaflets and start a website or an online newsletter.
The campaign has already won the support of Labour Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack.
She said: “There is a strong community spirit in Gorgie and Dalry and it is great to see that people want to come together to talk about how we can move forward.”
Ms Boyack also called for an inquiry into the source of the outbreak, which is yet to be identified.
“There are longer term questions that need to be asked now about improving safety in the area,” she added.
SNP councillor Denis Dixon, who represents the Sighthill and Gorgie ward, attended the meeting.
He said: “I am hopeful that the area hasn’t suffered a lot. I think people have handled it very well. You would expect concern but people haven’t been panicking.
“But this is a great opportunity as a starting point. I think we need to emphasise work done in the community.”
For more campaign details visit www.thegd.org.uk/gettingon.
The latest figures released by the Scottish Government show that there remain 50 confirmed cases of legionnaires’ disease and 49 suspected cases.
There were two patients in intensive care and seven on general wards yesterday.