No fes­tive fan­tasy but a very real is­sue for city trade

Stirling Observer - - DEAN LOCKHART -

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

201218TRAIN_01

New at­trac­tion Land train has proved pop­u­lar with the pub­lic but some traders say it is cost­ing them busi­ness

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