‘Trojan Horse’ fears over Edinburgh’s Christmas festival revamp


Fears have been raised revamp of Edinburgh’s Christmas festival within the wake of the coronavirus pandemic could possibly be a “Trojan Horse” for elevated commercialisation of public streets this winter.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, three:51 pm

Updated Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 5:41 pm
Edinburgh’s Christmas festival is anticipated to be radically revamped this 12 months within the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Tim Edgeler

Heritage specialists and neighborhood teams have additionally expressed concern that spreading stalls round a a lot bigger a part of the town centre than beforehand, together with the Royal Mile, George Street and Castle Street.

Part of East Princes Street Gardens and The Mound precinct would even be used for pop-up stalls and bars once more this 12 months.

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There are additionally worries that spreading out points of interest will enhance the chance of a spike in circumstances and a “local lockdown” having to be imposed as a consequence of difficulties in making certain social distancing, well being and security measures, and take a look at and hint techniques, are all in place.

A city-wide ban on pop-up bars and meals stalls is being demanded to keep away from them competing with everlasting metropolis centre companies through the six-week festival, which is because of get underway in November.

The Cockburn Association and the 5 neighborhood councils additionally wish to see the removing of points of interest just like the “Big Wheel” and “Star Flyer” from East Princes Street Gardens.

It emerged final week that occasions firm Underbelly, which has an annual contract value as much as £800,000 with the town council to run the town’s Christmas and Hogmanay occasions, had reached settlement with councillors on a new-look line-up.

It is aimed toward making certain some Christmas points of interest can go forward this 12 months with social distancing measures in place, whereas defending the grass within the gardens, which hosted the town’s largest ever market final 12 months and was not absolutely reopened to the general public till July.

More than 2.6 million folks flocked to Edinburgh’s Christmas market final winter in Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Lloyd Smith

The joint assertion was printed forward of councillors assembly to debate the new-look festivities on Thursday.

It states: “We help the path of journey away from the preparations that brought on a lot injury to East Princes Street Gardens and misery to residents in 2019/20.

“We stay of the view that the gardens usually are not acceptable for the Big Wheel, the Star Flyer and market stalls subsequent to the Scott Monument.

“The critical influence of the Covid-19 pandemic by way of public well being and financial uncertainty imply that the Council must be additional cautious and absolutely clear in contemplating how the town chooses to have a good time Christmas and Hogmanay this winter safely.

“Recent expertise from Scotland and elsewhere strongly associates the transmission of Covid-19 with food and drinks institutions and it’s not clear from the report how this shall be managed particularly provided that this has been a significant ingredient of previous choices by the Christmas market.

“Enhanced safety and folks administration for all elements of the winter festivals is an absolute precedence with respect to public safety.

“Although there’s restricted entry to the gardens, different dispersed parts ought to have the identical degree of administration to stop overcrowding, defend well being and guarantee social distancing. Even with pre-booked tickets and digital queuing software program, it’s inevitable that bodily preparations will must be put in place. This ought to be constructed into any approval course of.

“No lack of public circulation area ought to outcome from measures put in place for these occasions. For the avoidance of doubt, such administration and social distancing measures should not be a ‘Trojan Horse’ for elevated commodification of public areas together with streets.

“There ought to be no pop-up bars and meals shops, particularly as these create direct competitors, not additionality, to native all-year spherical companies equivalent to bars and cafes.

“We additionally really feel that pop-up bars can be specific problematic to the effectiveness of any take a look at and hint system.

“The proposed dispersal of operations throughout the town centre doesn’t equate to a scaled-down model of the winter festivals. It is unclear if the intention is to keep up the amount of stalls and leases to make sure monetary viability.”

Terry Levinthal, director of the Cockburn Association, mentioned: “Local companies should come at the beginning.

“To this finish, we recommend that there ought to be no pop-up bars or meals shops, as these act as direct rivals to native institutions who want all the assistance they’ll get.

“We welcome the numerous discount in presence in East Princes Street Gardens, and the obvious deletion of the area deck that brought on such controversy final 12 months.

“We have advocated a full threat administration course of in addition to enhanced safety and folks administration necessities making certain that any social distancing or different public security tips are robustly adhered to. The paper going to the council was gentle on element.

“As such, we proceed to have issues about what may occur on the bottom.”

A spokeswoman for Underbelly mentioned: “We have loved working collaboratively to make sure the council’s imaginative and prescient for the winter festivals can turn into a actuality.

“Working collectively, our absolute precedence is public security and our purpose for each occasions is to place Edinburgh first.

“Once agreed by the council, we’re assured these shall be occasions the town shall be pleased with, which is able to help the neighborhood and protect the town’s international standing as a vacation spot for Christmas and Hogmanay.

“We are very excited concerning the occasions and, as soon as the council has reached its resolution, we sit up for working additional with the council and different key companions on the supply of the programme, with the primary precedence of public security.”



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