THE founder of the MoonWalk has warned the Edinburgh fundraiser will have to be scrapped if council staff again hold up plans for next year’s midnight marathon.
Numbers taking part in this month’s walk were down by half on previous years, with only about 4000 fundraisers taking to Leith Links for the 2013 event.
Nina Barough, founder of organisers Walk the Walk, said delays in agreeing a site with the council put back planning for four months and estimated the fall in participation meant more than £1 million usually raised for charity had been lost.
And she said they charity could not afford to “take another hit like that” next year.
It is understood the delays were linked to senior officials in the parks department who postponed approving the event because the preferred location, Inverleith Park, was deemed unsuitable for use.
Leith Links was only approved as an alternative site in January. More than 8000 people usually take part in the iconic night-time fundraising event, and proceeds go directly to helping those with breast cancer.
Ms Barough said she had never before in the event’s eight-year history experienced the type of “deadlock” in getting site approval that happened this time round.
She said: “The system that’s set up in Edinburgh with the council is a fantastic system for organising events.
“However, there are certain individuals who are in authoritative positions who clearly do not understand events, and whose indecision meant that we did not get permission to hold the event until very late in the year.
“We lost months of time. It was very discouraging and very disappointing.”
Ms Barough added: “We certainly couldn’t take another hit like that for next year. It’d be really a shame [to pull out] because we’re doing so much good.”
City festivals and events champion Councillor Steve Cardownie said the treatment of the MoonWalk event had been “unacceptable”.
He said: “I apologise to the MoonWalk. MoonWalk were given the go ahead for Leith Links rather late in the day because it was determined that Inverleith Park would be unsuitable.
“I do believe it could have been done a lot quicker. I’m always pressing our officials to recognise that events take planning, they’re not going to happen overnight and we have to give the appropriate permission as soon as we possibly can.
“We cherish the fact that MoonWalk have chosen to stage their charity event in Edinburgh.”