Edinburgh Christmas and Hogmanay festivals contract renewed

The Christmas festivities in Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Julie Bull

The Christmas festivities in Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Julie Bull

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ORGANISERS of Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations have had their contract renewed for another year after council chiefs said they had improved the quality of the festivals.

The 2014-15 Edinburgh’s Christmas is estimated to have given the Capital an economic boost of nearly £200m while Edinburgh’s Hogmanay added another £41.8m.

Total footfall during Edinburgh’s Christmas was 2.8m – up from 2.6m. And the 2014-15 Hogmanay events saw audiences of over 150,000, with visitors from over 70 countries as well as local residents.

The consortium of Unique Events and Underbelly took over responsibility for running Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Edinburgh’s Christmas in 2013-14 on a three-year contract worth £3,937,368. The council has the option to extend it for up to two further years.

The city’s finance and resources committee on Thursday is expected to agree to an initial 12-month extension for 2016-17 at a maximum cost of £1,312,456.

But Green councillors say detail in the longer term contract needs to be re-examined to make sure the council is not losing out.

The contract provides for the council to share in the profits of the two festivals.

For 2014-15, that amounted to a combined total of just under £29,000. However, the council also faced a bill of £107,000 from Police Scotland for staffing the events. It was the first time the police had made such a charge and the council had not budgeted for it.

Green finance spokesman Gavin Corbett said a one-year extension was a wise move because it gave the opportunity to look again at the nature of the contract to try to make sure the council’s share of the profits could cover the police bill.

He added: “Although it seems that the Christmas and Hogmanay contract has been a success in the sense it has grown the festivals, the fact is the return to the council for both festivals is very modest and at the same time we have to meet high unexpected policing costs.

“I think we need to look again at the contract to see we are at least getting back the cost of the policing.”

A report on the festivals to the finance and resources committee says: “Over the first two years of the contract, the consortium has performed well, improving the quality of the Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations, maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction, providing more opportunities for local community groups to participate and increasing value for money for local residents.”

Edinburgh’s Christmas gave discounts to people with an EH postcode, and sold 97,500 discounted tickets to EH postcode holders.

The report adds that the council is in early negotiations with Police Scotland to establish costs for 2015-16 and beyond.