OCCUPY Edinburgh campers were set to leave the Meadows today after striking a deal with the city council.
Members of the protest movement said they would leave the public space by noon in exchange for being granted the use of council facilities. The group, which was facing an eviction hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday, will also be considered for public funding to help to pay for renting office space.
Occupy has also said it will be given the chance to use public halls or meeting spaces for short protest events, and plans to set up a rota to take workshops around the Capital.
An agreement was reached last night in which the council said it would identify opportunities to provide Occupy Edinburgh with temporary access to a central meeting space, over the next two weeks, with photocopying facilities.
It was also agreed that Occupy Edinburgh could apply to the council for a grant to cover the cost of renting an office.
Mike Ferrigan, one of the Occupy Edinburgh members negotiating with the city council, said: “We have agreed we will be vacating the Meadows by noon today in return for the council dropping the eviction order against us.
“We had very constructive meetings with the council and one of the agreements is that the council will be identifying a meeting space for us.
“They were very positive about us having outreach camps. For example, on Friday and Saturday nights we’d like to hold workshops and entertainments. We’d have a rota for different areas round Edinburgh.
“We’re moving into a different phase and we have lots of plans to spread the message.”
Environment leader, Councillor Robert Aldridge, said: “We had a constructive meeting with Occupy Edinburgh who have agreed to remove their camp from the Meadows.
“The council has a clear policy that no camping is permitted in our public parks and our officers will inspect the area to ensure that the camp has been cleared tomorrow.
“Staff will be offering advice to Occupy Edinburgh on how to make applications for any specific events they may wish to hold in the city, which will be considered on the same basis as the many other requests for specific events we receive.”
City centre councillor Joanna Mowatt, said: “I can think of about ten community organisations I would rather see grant money go to.
“Should we be providing free venues for them? We don’t do it for anyone else. If they want to apply for a grant, they can go ahead and apply in the normal way like everyone else has to.
“At the end of the day, they are a political pressure group – it shouldn’t be the case that the people who shout the loudest get whatever they want.”