If the sum total of East Lothian Council’s Covid-19 recovery plan amounts to the hackneyed communiqué issued via the Courier of July 2, ‘Stay safe, Support Local, Love East Lothian’, articulated by the Provost/spokesperson for economic development and tourism, then heaven help us.

This parochial message is as uninspiring as the accompanying photograph (Provost standing alone in front of a shop, sheltering from inclement mid-summer weather beneath an umbrella, wearing soon-to-be mandatory face mask); if a photo tells a thousand words, then we must be pessimistic about our future economic wellbeing.

Our main man on economic growth and tourism development matters says: “Local businesses are essential for our economy, they bring growth and innovation, provide employment and support the local economies and communities [and] they also care about their communities.”

Talk about stating the blindingly obvious.

To find the council – the body primarily charged with revitalising our all-but-closed-down economy – trotting out time-worn tropes is deeply depressing, whilst, given actions speak louder than words, sloganeering like ‘Stay Safe, Support Local, Love East Lothian’ is quite simply not nearly good enough.

I’m sure the majority of East Lothian residents (and businesspeople in particular) want to hear about the revitalisation of our ailing economy is what policy initiatives, mechanisms and, critically, financial investment elected members and officials are developing in order to, at the very least, mitigate against the worst effects of a forthcoming economic tsunami, at best, to explain the measures they plan to put in place as a bulwark against potential economic collapse.

Even in the grip of a pandemic, East Lothian has much to be positive about: quality of life, a magnificent natural and built environment, transport links, many well-educated, talented people, a growing, thriving population, and an exceptional hospitality and leisure sector – put together, a solid platform for recovery and growth.

Surely it is time – considering post-pandemic prosperity and economic development is not the exclusive responsibility of the public sector – that vision and imagination are injected into East Lothian’s response, starting with a call-to-arms for a county-wide, public-private Economic Recovery Task Force to develop and implement a bold action plan.

It’s not inconceivable that an audacious, ambitious recovery plan already exists; if so, please do tell, our futures and those of future generations depend on it, but, meanwhile, cut out cheap slogans which frankly convince nobody.

Mike Wilson


A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “We have just launched a promotional campaign ‘Stay Safe, Support Local, Love East Lothian’ to encourage people to support their local businesses whenever possible.

"A strapline of this kind is a proven and effective way of getting a message across along the same lines as government campaigns such as ‘Stay Home, Save Lives, Protect the NHS’.

"However, this is only one strand of a massive effort that has been ongoing since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

"With respect to the key area of our economy, lots of collaborative work is going on, with the council planning a major economic recovery strategy – with specific groups looking at tourism and hospitality, rural, employability and town centres, involving partnership work with local businesses and national bodies such as VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, the DWP, and the local Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Business.

" Already, we have paid out more than £16 million in support grants to East Lothian businesses to help them survive the current crisis and we will continue to work together to ensure that our valued businesses not only survive but thrive at the other side of the pandemic.

"We know how much local people value our innovative local businesses and are pleased to see the overwhelmingly positive support online for the launch of our campaign.

"Businesses have also told us the support has been excellent in terms of the advice and practical solutions offered to them to help them re-open safely.

"More information on measures we will be taking to support our economy, including our work with tourism partners as that industry starts to re-open, and our work with partners such as DWP, Jobcentre & Skills Development Scotland to tackle any emerging employment issues, will be available in the coming weeks and months.”