No festive fantasy but a very real issue for city trade
A day or so before Christmas, in the lateafternoon, I was walking up Stirling’s Spittal Street when I heard a commotion coming from down the hill.
Emerging from the mid-winter gloom was a train running along the road and festooned in fairy lights. Santa was at the controls, Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ was blaring from coaches packed with smiling and waving passengers. A conductress, also dressed in Christmas garb, was seated in the rear coach.
I can say, hand on heart, that although I lived through the sixties, I never ‘dropped’ acid but I imagine those that did were prey to unlikely and surreal hallucinations such as this.
I was, of course, aware it was Stirling’s new land train but I imagine others not in the know might have thought they had somehow slipped into a film by the late Ken Russell.
Joking aside, the land train initiative by Go Forth Stirling , the organisation behind Stirling’s Business Improvement District, seems to be proving popular with visitors and locals alike although up to now it has been free.
Go Forth will decide within the next few weeks whether, for this year, they will seek to offset the annual £10,000 a year cost of running the land train by levying a fare.
Proposals to acquire and run a land train, linking the centre of the city with Stirling Castle and our other attractions, was in the ‘manifesto’ put to traders before the affirmative vote for the Stirling BID in July last year.
Last month, however, some traders at the Top of the Town , claimed the land train was costing them business.
They said visitors to the castle, who before would have walked into the city centre and perhaps drop into their shops and cafe along the way, were now cruising by in the land train.
From the outside looking in, it looks as if the land train can only be of benefit to trade and footfall along its route. And while some have complained about the land train, no one has expressed reservations about the park-and-ride bus which has been performing a similar function for a number of years.
Nevertheless, Go Forth BID director Jon Walton has promised to look into the concerns raised at a meeting with all traders this month.
I am sure it is not a drug-induced fantasy to hope the two sides can find a way of working that keeps everyone happy, benefits business and ensure the land train as a future.
•If you have a view on this matter email john.row[email protected]itymirror.com, or write to the Observer at 34 Upper Craigs, Stirling, FK82DW.
John Rowbotham, Editor
New attraction Land train has proved popular with the public but some traders say it is costing them business