|The new Subway shop has met with resistance from Portobello residents. |
From Edinburgh Evening News. Picture: Esme Allen
You know, I'm always fighting in support of big business in their quest to revolutionise our cities towns and villages. It is only money and power that can change things so why stand in the way of progress? Often I think the battle has been won and then something happens which reminds me that we must remain ever-vigilant. I was alarmed this week to read a dreadful tale about middle class do-gooders intent on keeping Portobello in the 20th century by trying to block the fast-food giant Subway from opening on High Street.
Now I must lay out my stall in the first place to show that I have no side or bias in this matter. I'm a Greggs man through and through. But while I love their pies and sausage rolls and enjoy a fly cemetery from time to time, I know that competition is absolutely essential to the health of High Streets.
|A lovely wee fly cemetery - thanks to Mhairi Little Hands|
So when I read a story about interfering residents and quivering local businesses branding Subway's dynamic business expansion as 'a disgrace' I have to say something.
Speaking as an expert town planner, the food industry is one of our greatest assets. I know plenty of people who work in it - from Wee Heather who wheels the tea trolley around at Auchterness to a friend of mine who actually moved from planning to retail. He was hungry for new skills so enrolled for an introductory course on the food industry. It was a sandwich course but he had an appetite for it - as would most breadwinners in his position. Married to an upper crust wife with a bun in the oven, he thought he could have his cake and eat it. And he was right - he has never looked back and brings home the bacon every month without fail.
“Portobello is the kind of community you need to stay on the right side of or otherwise you’re doomed.” Isn't this just terrible? An appalling attitude to progress. “I’m worried (about) what they are doing to the building which is in a conservation area." Ah - pulling out the conservation area chestnut. There are plenty of good reasons why this move by Subway is an excellent one. Many people in Portobello will be poor or suffering from multiple deprivation - why deny them the opportunity to have some decent food at a good price? There is plenty of room outside the shop for seats and litter bins and there is even a pillar box into which some of the local neds can place their half-eaten foot long sandwiches. It's an excellent use for this derelict shop unit. It's close to bus stops and just across the road from the Police Station - and I'm sure the local constabulary will be important patrons of this excellent establishment.
In my book, this is all too typical of the bad attitudes to change that are wrecking our town centres across the country. Too many vested interests, a fear of competition and too many sandal-wearing middle class do-gooders. Most will probably have taken early retirement from local government and will see out their days trying to block The Enterprise. Our towns are full of them - they have nothing better to do with their time than sit around writing protest letters about litter and potholes and trying to prevent entrepreneurialism. Many of them will have been development control officers - or worse. It's time to take a stand against these folk - I hope you agree!