‘Gala days are glue that binds communities’

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the sun always seemed to shine on gala days, or maybe it is just a trick of the memory that blots out recollections of the ones when it rained.

Whatever the truth, it is hard to have grown up in the Lothians without having spent happy days watching the pageants, licking ice-cream and trying our luck on the stalls.

Gala days might make us nostalgic for the days of our youth, but the truth is that many have enjoyed a revival in recent years having fallen by the wayside. That has not happened by accident, as anyone who has helped stage one of the region’s many galas and fairs will testify. It takes a heck of a lot of effort by an awful lot of people to make these events work.

It is not just the pleasure they give to young and old alike, bridging the divide between generations, that makes gala days special. It is the rare chance they give neighbours – who normally pass the time of day outside the corner shop – to relax and enjoy themselves together. Events like these are the glue that binds communities together.

Part of the role of local councils is to support and enable them. The city is failing pretty dismally in that job right now. It is all very well to say that part of the fees will be waived on appeal, but why is it telling organisers that they will be billed up to £7000 in the first place?

Everyone understands that road closures and so on cost money to put in place and that the city has to count every penny right now. But the Corstorphine Fair is the most successful community-run event in the Capital. The council should be pulling out the stops to support it.

Instead, it is throwing red tape in the way and there are still no guarantees that the fees the fair will eventually be charged will be ones it can afford. What is needed is a separate set of charges for community events before the volunteers behind them decide to throw in the towel.