A MEETING held to launch a business association in Tranent expressed a strong desire to improve parking so the town is no longer used as a “car park for Edinburgh”.

About 20 businesses attended the meeting at The Tower Kitchen last month to discuss what issues they wanted to see tackled by a potential association. 

Dominic McNeill, owner of The Tower Inn and  The Tower Kitchen, is behind the group, which has already attracted 32 businesses in the town, including Thomson’s of Tranent, S&Y McMaster Master Butcher and Whispers Lounge Bar. 

He said: “I think everyone will agree that Tranent is dying a death at the moment. 

“The High Street is embarrassing. I sat and watched the other day and about 100 cars went along, none of them with any room to stop. If even five per cent of them were to stop and shop here, it would make a difference.

“I believe there was an effort to launch a business association pre-Covid but nothing ever happened. But I think it could make a real difference and I’ve had great support so far.”

The meeting detailed some key issues in the town, including parking and empty buildings.

Mr McNeill said: “The big issue discussed was parking.

“Parking on High Street is all day, and it is long-stay at Well Wynd and other parts of the town.

“People are dumping their cars and getting the train or bus into Edinburgh. 

“This is a major problem because people who want to use the shops can’t get parked.

“We want to see the parking consultation for Tranent brought forward. We know it is coming, but we need it now. 

“Businesses are struggling. I have spoken to three already that are on the verge of folding.

“Tranent is being used as a car park for Edinburgh.”

Plans to create a website and social media pages for the group were also discussed, and a regular outdoor market was suggested.

Mr McNeill said: “A lot of ideas were shared and a lot of things discussed. We want to do all these things and really promote Tranent.

“But the first thing is the parking. If we can’t sort the parking, we can’t do the rest. Parking is key.”

George Thomson, of Thomson’s of Tranent, told the Courier: “I think a group like this is very important for Tranent.

“I think it is important that all of the businesses in Tranent combine and rally together to make this happen.

“We want to bring more people to our town and make it a brighter area to be in.

“I think this is an issue not just in Tranent. Some areas like North Berwick are an exception, where they have good tourism all year round. Tranent is not like that.

“Parking was discussed and that is important too. We tried forming a group before, but there is a real appetite now.”

Mr McNeill, whose dad Robert is a member of the town’s community council and a former East Lothian councillor, said that there would be another meeting of the group in the coming weeks to assign roles, including a chair.

Mike Falconer, chair of Tranent and Elphinstone Community Council, said: “I think Tranent has been crying out for a business association for a while now. 

“I hope businesses can get involved and make a real go of it.

“Bringing life to Tranent High Street is one of the top priorities at the community council.”

Councillor Colin McGinn, ward member for Tranent, added: “It is looking like this will happen now and I know Dominic is very passionate about it.

“This can only be a good thing for Tranent.