Greengrocer shutting up shop after 25 years blames roadworks misery

A GREENGROCER has claimed that ongoing pavement and roadworks in Portobello have forced him to shut up shop after 25 years of trading.

Neil Wilson, who ran Borders Fresh Farm Produce on the High Street, said he could no longer run his fruit and veg business after the "disruptive" and "constant" works on the local area had driven his profits down by 35 per cent.

Now Mr Wilson is focusing on his second, Musselburgh-based business, Wilson's Fresh Farm Produce, and organised a delivery service to Portobello so that he can still serve local customers.

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He said: "For the past four years there have been several different works on the town, which has affected the whole High Street and has hammered my business.

"In particular the pavements have been dug up and re-dug up. A bus shelter was built right in front of my shop in 2006 and it has just had more work done on it. I realise there has been a recession but, comparing the money made by my two shops in 2009, you can see quite a difference.

"The Musselburgh shop only lost 1 per cent of business, whereas the Portobello store was down by 14 per cent. Over the past few years we have seen a drop of 35 per cent. I think that says something. "

Recently the Evening News reported that a new pavement laid along the High Street in January as part of an 800,000 regeneration project was dug up just three weeks later to install new street lights. And last year roadworks to replace Seafield Roundabout took six months longer than expected.

Mr Wilson said: "There are gaps along the street now and we can only hope that works will soon stop so that normal life can resume. If the council isn't careful we'll see the death of Portobello.

"One moment it's hard for traffic to get through, and the next people don't want to walk along the High Street.

A council spokesman said that recent works done to the roads and pavements in Portobello were designed to mend ageing areas and attract visitors to the area.

He said: "The works to upgrade and improve the main shopping areas of Portobello High Street are nearing completion and have already made a huge difference to the overall look and feel of the area. We will continue to work hard, with the help of the Scottish Government's Town Centre Regeneration fund, to ensure that Edinburgh's town centres develop even further as attractive focal points for the communities they serve." He said current pavement works on the high street were due to be over by early this month.