Published on 23 Aug 2013 Sections

Singing in the streets: five things we learned in Edinburgh

It is festival time in Edinburgh and the city is heaving. But what is life like outside the bubble – and is there any sign of recovery further afield? #c4newspopup takes to the streets to find out.

1) Towns outside the capital are still feeling the effects of the recession. That’s according to Karen Williamson from Galashiels, who told us that the town centre is “full of charity shops” after the main supermarket chains opened big retail stores on the outskirts of the town. She says she has to travel over an hour to Edinburgh for “everything”, including jobs.

“The big supermarkets have taken over – we have to come to Edinburgh for jobs, shopping everything. There’s nothing there for Kylie either” says Karen.

2) Is Edinburgh becoming a foodie hub? Pete Jackson, founder of Earthy foods, is cautiously optimistic that is the case. He opened his first shop and cafe in 2008 just a few months before the recession hit, but has weathered the storm and now has three sites in the city centre, thanks to the growing demand for sustainable, locally sourced produce.

It hasn’t been easy, and he’s noticed a rising number of convenience stores from the Big Four supermarkets opening around the city centre: “Whoever heads up property and development for Sainsburys in Edinburgh deserves a bonus. They’re opening left right and centre. But do we really need it?”

He says Edinburgh people want fresh, healthy food – and they want to support local farmers as well.

3) The independence debate ahead of Scotland’s 2014 referendum is already a fiery one.

Playwright and performer Alan Bissett, from the pro-independence alliance National Collective, told us that that Scotland’s views are not represented in Westminster, and said the pro-independence movement was “pro-Scotland, not anti-English”.

“We hopefully will be able to import a democratic revolution down south… That’s what people in the creative community are in it for.”

But his comments ignited a fierce debate on Twitter.

4) Mention the word trams to anyone in Edinburgh, and you are likely to get an impassioned response. The costs of developing the tram system have spiralled, it’s still not ready and the final system won’t stretch as far as originally planned.

That was the main issue Edinburgh’s locals wanted #c4newspopup to explore – and we did what we were told.

5) While there was plenty of grumbling about rubbish roads, no cycle lanes, and those pesky trams, the people of Edinburgh lost no time in putting their transport woes to music…

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