IT should be a welcoming green oasis at the heart of the city, but today it is akin to a barren wilderness.
The urban haven of Princes Street Gardens has been left in a “state of disrepair” for the start of summer, with stretches of ground having still not recovered from the Winter Wonderland celebrations.
The state of the lawns is especially bad in the East End, where cuts of grassy turf have not been rolled out despite the gardens traditionally being rejuvenated by May 1 at the latest.
Yesterday at the City Chambers, deputy council leader Steve Cardownie highlighted the inaction and questioned why reinstatement of the public park had been delayed.
He said: “I cannot believe it is solely down to the weather.”
Councillor Cardownie called on chief executive Sue Bruce to investigate why it remained in a “state of disrepair”.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Cardownie said: “We have had bad weather this year but we’ve also had bad weather in the past, and I just wanted to get to the bottom of it and get Princes Street Gardens restored to the way it should be.
“It’s unacceptable but it always has to look like that in preparation for the final work to be done, so I’m just concerned and want to know what the reasons are for the final work not to be done.”
It costs up to £40,000 to reinstate Princes Street Gardens to its former condition after the festive season. The bill is covered by operator of the Winter Wonderland festival, not the taxpayer.
Marion Williams, director at heritage group the Cockburn Association, said: “My heart sinks when I see it like that.
“It’s now spring and the sun’s out, but thank goodness it’s not raining at the moment because it would all be mud where we should have flowers and grass.
“Tourists are here now so it’s too late already. This is a nice, sedate bit of Edinburgh, it’s a wonderful resource and it should be looking its best.”
The heritage chief suggested the city’s Yuletide festivities should be moved to the Grassmarket to preserve the gardens.
Last week, the News told of plans to relocate the Christmas ice rink to George Street.
Mrs Williams said: “Why don’t they do the Christmas stuff somewhere else like the Grassmarket which is perfect place to do it where you have cobbled and concreted surfaces.”
A VisitScotland spokesman said: “The situation isn’t ideal as Princes Street Gardens is a popular place to enjoy a picnic or go for a walk for many people visiting the city. However, we don’t expect this to have a significant impact upon tourism and look forward to the work being completed.”
Councillor Jim Orr, vice-convener for the environment, said: “The unusually cold weather in March and April, coupled with Scottish Water manhole cover works in East Princes Street Gardens, has led to a slight delay in laying down new turf in the park, which we normally expect to have completed by the beginning of May.
“Work to cultivate the ground has been taking place and it is expected that turf will be laid early next week. This is estimated to take a fortnight.”