The decision by Drum to board up the shop is an act of “Cultural Vandalism” designed to drive out the remaining businesses and force the council’s hand in backing their plan of demolition. Activists from Save Leith Walk have been cleaning and tidying up the shops for weeks but that wasn’t enough for Drum. Instead they want to turn the area into a wasteland that no one wants. Just look how they have neglected the back site.
There is a precedent for this type of action. In the 1970s greedy landlords in New York made whole city blocks uninhabitable for the remaining occupiers by boarding up empty flats. The boarded up flats served as a standing advert for burglars and vandals that there was no one home. Areas where there had been no crime now became hot spots. Boards were peeled off, any remaining valuables, copper pipes, windows and even doors were looted. The empty properties then became hideouts for drug users and other desperate souls.
Eventually all the tenants and businesses moved out. Working class areas which once had a lively culture became derelict and left to the property developers. Then the bulldozers and wrecking ball moved in.
In boarding up the “New Shops”, Drum hope to drive out the remaining tenants and send a message to the people of Leith that their development is going ahead and nothing is going to stop them.
Instead we want the Edinburgh Council to insist that they will not even discuss Drum’s plans until the hoarding is removed and more appropriate short term plans are put into place for the use of the building over the next 18 months.
We suggest that each of the shops are offered to independent retailers, craft artisans and local artists for a rent of £1 a month in exchange for them being opened at least 5 days a week. The shops will then remain alive and flourishing and the nature of Leith Walk can be maintained.
This is our community. One that should belong to the people of Leith – the people who live here, the people who work here and the people who will come in the future.
Thank you to Ian Hood for sending the post for us to share.