COUNCIL chiefs have revealed plans to claw back a fraction of the £1 billion spent on the Edinburgh trams scheme by selling merchandise including model trams, mugs and T-shirts.
The plan, which is set to see other famous Edinburgh landmarks, such as the Scott Monument and Princes Street Gardens, made into models, is contained in new budget proposals which were put before councillors yesterday.
Officials are trying to make £28 million of savings in the 2015-16 city budget. They hope at least £100,000 could be raked in by selling the trinkets – but this figure will grow if the merchandise becomes a success among locals and tourists alike.
It is understood the plan has been motivated by the belief that souvenir sellers could soon begin cashing in on the trams through pens, keyrings and mugs.
Sales and merchandising expert Andy Preston, of Outstanding Results, said that while the plan may appear to be a “cheap stunt”, merchandising could in fact be a valuable way of rebranding the much-derided tram project.
He said: “Granted, the project has a long way to come to win everyone around but merchandising, if it is done correctly, can help to rebrand and change people’s notions. If those in support of the project and visitors to the city buy into it, then it can have an effect on the ‘neutrals’.
“The Edinburgh tram project is known throughout the UK and abroad so it makes sense for the council to get in on the merchandising front before somebody else does.”
Grant McKeeman, of Copymade, in the city’s West End, who nearly went out of business due to the long-running delays and tramworks outside his business, described the move as “laughable”.
He said: “I have no idea why somebody would want to buy a tram keyring. I am sure the council will be keen to have them stocked in our lovely ‘Tartan Tat’ shops – they will fit in a treat.”
A spokeswoman for the city council said: “We’re currently investigating high-quality merchandising opportunities to help us promote the Capital and its assets. Themes could include trams and cultural attractions, such as key landmarks and monuments like Greyfriars Bobby and the Scott Monument.
“It’s too early to specify what kind of products we’ll commission but we want to ensure that whatever merchandise we go for is appealing and high quality.”
Edinburgh City Council also hopes to make an additional £6m of savings which will be used to fix the city’s crumbling school estate and road network.
Proposals went before councillors yesterday and the public will be asked for their views in an online survey between now and December. The full budget will be presented to the council in February.
Plans for a £750,000 saving in the city’s parking department have been mooted, which would be achieved through increasing charges for permits and pay-and-display tickets.
Meanwhile, the elderly face an 8 per cent increase in fees for council care homes, while hourly rates for home care will jump from £13.50 to £15.50.