Comment: Should St Andrew Square be an oasis of calm in August?

Capital resident Stuart Ferguson looks through a festival guide in St Andrew Square. Picture: SCOTT TAYLOR

Capital resident Stuart Ferguson looks through a festival guide in St Andrew Square. Picture: SCOTT TAYLOR

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Turn the clock back ten years and St Andrew Square was one of the city’s most under-used assets.

The park in the centre of the city was kept under lock and key which meant almost no one went there. It was a crying shame. Just how much of a waste that was has been shown very clearly by the huge crowds it has drawn in recent years.

It has quickly become a fixture of the summer and winter Festivals, hosting Fringe shows, ice skating, food stalls and bars, as well as special one-off events like the “stick men” light show. The place is usually buzzing throughout the summer and winter months.

So it will be a little odd this summer - especially as the Fringe celebrates its 70th anniversary - for it to slip away from the main action again.

It would be easy to rail against the big corporations stopping us “plebs” from having our fun - but it is not quite as simple as that. There is a legitimate question about how we best use our public spaces especially the beautiful green corners of the city centre. The east end of the New Town is changing fast - and will change much more in the next few years as the St James Quarter takes shape. Given that St Andrew Square will remain open to the public, there doesn’t seem to be any risk of it becoming an exclusive enclave again.

The question really is whether it is best utilised as an oasis of calm within the hustle and bustle of the city centre or as an events space where the Fringe and Edinburgh’s Christmas can go wild. Another spot like Princes Street Gardens where office and shop workers and Fringe-goers alike can stop for a picnic would be lovely. But keeping it like that in August will be a big blow to the Fringe if somewhere else can’t be found for the Spiegeltent and so on. But where? George Street? Princes St Gardens? The Meadows? The hunt is on - and someone won’t be happy.