Fears Festival Square giant TV could cause crashes

The Festival Square screen was originally installed for the Olympics. Picture: Scott Taylor
The Festival Square screen was originally installed for the Olympics. Picture: Scott Taylor
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A BID to swivel the Capital’s giant television screen by three metres to face oncoming traffic has been turned down amid fears it would cause car crashes.

London-based SIS Digital wanted to change the angle of the screen in Festival Square, originally installed to show the Olympics, so it no longer faces into the pedestrianised area.

The company said the move followed complaints from the nearby Sheraton Grand Hotel that the giant screen was “visually intrusive”.

But councillors rejected the planning application for the change after officials said it would spoil the design and character of the square and be “detrimental to traffic safety”. A report said passing drivers could be distracted by moving images.

Councillors also turned down an application to show full motion images and promotions for Marketing Edinburgh, several of the Capital’s festivals, major sporting events and sponsorship advertising content.

Patrick Noone, director of SIS Digital, said: “They have now rejected the idea of the screen showing full motion advertising, despite the fact it has run since 2009 showing full motion TV. We are a little confused what the difference is.

“The Sheraton Hotel is unhappy with the idea of the screen shining into their five-star dining room and we want to attract more advertisers to generate more revenue to pay for the running of the screen.

“The idea was to move it three metres, facing on to a slow moving piece of road but certain members of the council were worried it might cause car accidents.

“It’s council land generating revenue for the council and a little bit of glamour in an area that needs that sort of regeneration.”

Mr Noone also claimed the council was being inconsistent because last year it had approved plans for Times Square-style digital billboards and posters to be put up in the city.

The company’s case was backed at yesterday’s planning meeting by former Lord Provost Eric Milligan.

But planning committee convener Ian Perry said the digital advertising which the council had approved elsewhere was stationary rather than moving.

He said: “If we introduced moving images they may have an adverse effect in terms of road safety.”

And he said the council was currently taking action against one advertising company which had on occasion allowed moving images on hoardings in Leith Walk.

Cllr Perry said: “The committee felt turning the screen so it was no longer facing in would have the same effect in potentially distracting drivers.”

The screen, originally paid for by the BBC, is owned by the council but looked set to come down last year due to a £26,000-a-year power and maintenance bill and lack of interest in it until SIS Digital took it over on a lease.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com