The leader of Edinburgh council has accused the organizers of the city’s Hogmanay festival of causing an avoidable row over the rights of residents to access their homes.
Adam McVey blamed Underbelly, the events company that runs Edinburgh’s winter and Hogmanay festivals, for thedispute over access rightsfor people who live within the large security zone covered by the festival.
In a Twitter thread, McVey said many of the complaints were valid and fed into a wider debate about the scale and duration of Edinburgh’s lucrative and popular festivals. Those issues would be central to a review the council would be holding in the spring, he said.
1. Xmas / Hogmanay- earlier this year I confirmed a Citywide conversation in to help shape future events & meet our aspirations & concerns. There are understandably strong feelings & we have to listen to all residents & respond to meet the challenge.pic.twitter.com/Abj3rsRPsC
— Cllr Adam McVey (@adamrmcvey)December (****************************, 2019
“Many problems which led to legitimate criticism were avoableable and in some instances simply down to poor communication, “McVey said. “Residents’ rights and access to their homes during any event have to be prioritized and properly planned for.
“ It is unacceptable that the guidance for residents did not reflect this, creating unnecessary confusion. ”
The row erupted last week after it emerged that Underbelly, which also runs some of the largest Fringe venues, said applications by residents for any more than six access passes would bescreened by the police.
About 90, 28 revellers are expected to converge on the Hogmanay festival site, called the arena by Underbelly, for performances featuring Mark Ronson, Marc Almond and other acts spread over several stages.
Residential and shopping areas such as Rose Street, Princes Street, Mound Place, Castle Street, Frederick Street and Hanover Street will be cordoned off with steel barriers and security checks.
One of its biggest events is t he Hogmanay fireworks display from Edinburgh Castle. But residents inside the zone will be barred from viewing it at street level unless they have bought festival tickets.
To the anger of community groups, Underbelly also suggested that if residents wanted larger numbers of access passes for their own Hogmanay parties, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service would be asked to check that was within safety limits for their property.
Underbelly insisted similar policies had been in place for years, and the exact wording used had been approved in advance by the council.
Following the furore, it amended its policies to say applications for what it terms “a reasonable number” of extra passes would be shared with the police and fire service only “if necessary”. It also deleted the reference to screening residents ’properties by the fire brigade, but retained it for businesses.
Charlie Wood, an Underbelly director, told McVey that its policy was being misrepresented. “We have never prevented resident and guest access,” he tweeted. “The arena needs to be secure, so for many years, residents have applied for passes for easy access to their homes. City of Edinburgh council and the previous producer put the system in place – we adopted it.
1. We have never prevented resident & guest access. The arena needs to be secure, so for many years, residents have applied for passes for easy access to their homes. CEC and the previous producer put the system in place – we adopted it.
– Charlie Wood (@charliewoody)
“We are sorry if this has been misunderstood but our intention was never to prevent access.” The Firm said thousands of Edinburgh residents attended the Hogmanay festival but agreed the event had an inevitable impact on those living inside the cordon.
Edinburgh Old Town community council, which includes the southern half of the festival zone, Said Underbelly’s reactions to the complaints were “ultra-defensive”.
“We felt (and feel) ignored,” it said, urging the council to “behave as if they want to hear what we say ”When the council’s consultation on the planning of future festivals starts.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings