Business group wants ‘unnecessary travel’ COP26 guidance scrapped

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce says hospitality and retail businesses are suffering due to lack of footfall.

Business group wants ‘unnecessary travel’ COP26 guidance scrapped STV News
People were urged not to make unnecessary journeys into Glasgow during COP26.

Travel guidance urging people not to make unnecessary journeys into Glasgow during COP26 should be scrapped, according to the voice of the city’s business community.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive, Stuart Patrick, says current guidance is having a detrimental impact on hospitality and retail businesses missing out on footfall.

Transport Scotland has urged people not to make unnecessary journeys into Glasgow during the UN climate summit, which ends on Friday, and a number of key roads across the city are closed.

But Patrick says local businesses rely on visitors bringing their custom into the city centre

He said: “While there are some businesses that have benefitted from hosting delegates and major events, the passing trade for the city centre during COP26 has been much lower than expected.

“Now that the world leaders have left and the peak of organised protestor events have occurred, we would urge Transport Scotland to lift the guidance around unnecessary travel to allow businesses to once again welcome trade.

“Glasgow’s hospitality and retail businesses are still struggling as they recover from the pandemic in addition to the challenges they face with staff and supply chain shortages.

“They need support now more than ever and it is crucial that we do not discourage city centre visitors who bring with them the custom that is needed.”

Up to 25,000 people are expected to attend the COP26 event throughout the duration of the conference. It is expected that up to 12,000 people will be on site at any one time.

The summit – which will be attended by world leaders – is being billed as the last, best chance to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C to avoid the most dangerous climate change.

It was delayed from 2020 because of the pandemic and organisers have been keen to push for an in-person event this year to allow all countries to participate effectively and secure a successful outcome to climate negotiations, while ensuring it is a Covid-safe event.

Transport Scotland defended its travel advice and said it had been developed in order to provide a “a safe, secure and resilient transport network for delegates and others travelling in the area, with public transport and active travel at its core”.

A spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government firmly believes that hosting COP26 offers important economic opportunities for Glasgow, particularly for Glasgow’s accommodation and hospitality sectors but also for Scotland as a whole through new trade and investment opportunities.

“We knew that certain dates would be much busier than others, especially around the start of the conference and the planned days of activism.

“That’s why we asked people to plan their travel in advance and consider leaving their cars at home, to avoid gridlock and leave space for key workers and emergency services to make essential journeys.”