Revellers set to defy Calton Hill Hogmanay ban

Revellers regularly congregate on Calton Hill for Hogmanay events. Picture: Tony Marsh
Revellers regularly congregate on Calton Hill for Hogmanay events. Picture: Tony Marsh
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REVELLERS are vowing to defy a ban designed to prevent them seeing in the New Year on Calton Hill.

Organisers of the world-famous Hogmanay celebrations have blocked access to the popular vantage point, citing health and safety fears.

The view of the fireworks from Calton Hill. Picture: Mark Sutherland/HEMEDIA

The view of the fireworks from Calton Hill. Picture: Mark Sutherland/HEMEDIA

But many have vowed to flout the controversial ruling, claiming they shouldn’t be prevented from celebrating on “open public land” – potentially leaving organisers with a security headache.

Access to Calton Hill will be guarded by stewards from private security firm G4S, with police on standby should any trouble break out.

Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan said he feared the ban was “unenforceable”, adding that it could cause a “fracas”.

“This is unenforceable and people could be put at greater risk by this stupid and short-sighted decision,” he said.

Stewards will be at access points from 7pm until after midnight but readers commenting on the Evening News website and social media have vowed to ignore them.

One wrote: “Nobody is going to stop anyone going anywhere. So head up, as I’ll be doing, and enjoy the show for free.”

Another said: “I will go up there at 6.59 with a warm blanket, a picnic basket, and a bottle of single malt.”

Someone else added: “Here’s a prediction, it’s all going to kick off at Calton Hill on New Year’s Eve. A private security firm has no right to stop the public accessing a public thoroughfare. They have, in effect, made it more dangerous.”

Officials have claimed it is becoming increasingly difficult to guarantee the safety of crowds on Calton Hill – which falls within the “fireworks zone” – though there have been no serious injuries in recent years.

And with tickets available for the official Princes Street celebrations, many described it as a ploy to herd people into the paid-for street party.

But Eric Alexander, managing director for G4S events, and city events champion Councillor Richard Lewis insisted public safety was the priority.

Mr Alexander said: “With the increasing numbers coming to the event, the agencies responsible for staging Hogmanay have agreed that Calton Hill, which is poorly lit and without toilets or other facilities, is unsuitable for 
public access.”

North Bridge, Waterloo Place and Leith Street will be closed to traffic after 10pm to allow an uninterrupted view of the fireworks display.

A city council spokeswoman said there were a “number of vantage points” for the fireworks this Hogmanay, including Inverleith Park and the Meadows.

She added: “Together we urge people to be cautious, stay safe, and in their best interests plan an alternative vantage point. There will be no unauthorised access to Calton Hill.”

It is within the rights of the council to temporarily restrict access to the area under health and safety grounds.