A ‘Tram Shop’ is to open in Edinburgh’s West End at a cost of £160,000 to the public purse.
The price to refit 6 Shandwick Place, formerly the sweet shop Sugacane, will cost in the region of £100,000 and the two-year lease will cost the City of Edinburgh Council £30,000 per annum.
A maximum of 20 staff will work out of the premises including customer service, communications and four street cleaning staff.
Information regarding the project will be available to the public including occasional presentations.
According to council officials the decision to create a base for the tram project in the centre of the city was made following public consultation which revealed that locals wanted a stronger presence on the ground.
However, the new tram shop has not been well received by all. Michael Apter, chair of the West End Traders Association told the Evening News: “This is not something we have asked for.”
“A presence on the ground might have been requested, but that was as much about managing the site. There’s a Lothian Buses shop just across the road, I don’t know why they couldn’t just have put a desk in there.”
He also said that Sugacane had closed earlier in 2012 because the disruption from tramworks had damaged business.
A spokesman for the council explained that sharing the Lothian Buses premises was not suitable and explained that the new base is “much more than just a shop”.
He said: “We made a commitment to the West End business community earlier this year to increase our presence in the city centre – the idea being to offer traders greater access to support over the course of the construction works.
“It will provide a city centre base for staff working directly with affected local businesses as well as a focal point where members of the public can drop in and ask questions and generally learn more about the project.”
The ‘Tram Shop’ will be open six days a week from mid-June and will be a deal with all enquiries regarding the trams until they come into service in 2014.
It will also act as a meeting point to host talks, debates and other events relating to the tram project.