Councillor calls for gala day licensing fee review

Jessica Hughes, 13, dances on Constitution Street during Leith Gala Day. Picture: Toby Williams
Jessica Hughes, 13, dances on Constitution Street during Leith Gala Day. Picture: Toby Williams
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A LABOUR councillor who is also organiser of her local gala is demanding a comprehensive review of expensive licensing charges levied on community events.

Karen Keil said the licenses and fees which were deemed necessary for fairs and galas seemed to change every year and warned the costs were forcing organisers to scale back.

They say the ponies need a licence because they are performing animals – no they’re not, they walk up and down.

Karen Keil

She is due to meet officials for talks on the issue next week.

Organisers of the Corstorphine Fair warned last week that this year’s event will be their last unless they have their licence costs reduced.

Councillor Keil, who has organised the Clermiston Gala for the past 20 years, said: “I want a look at the whole thing. This needs to be sorted out once and for all.

“When we had discussions several years ago we thought we had sorted out the public entertainment licence, but now they seem to have splintered it into lots of different licences that all mean more money.

“It happens every year – every year we have hassle and effectively they are going to curtail what we are doing, which cannot be the intention, surely.”

She said the council was wanting to charge £3000 for this year’s Clermiston Gala.

“That’s virtually half our income,” said Cllr Keil. “It’s completely unacceptable.

“They say the ponies need a licence because they are performing animals – no they’re not, they walk up and down.”

“The council says it’s not us who have to pay some of these charges, it’s the operators – but it’s coming out of what we would get as income.

“These people have to earn a living. They either have to put up their charges or we get less.

“The funfair has been asked to pay for an amusement devices licence. If they brought the same number of rides as last year it would be £4000, so they say they will just bring fewer rides. It will go from being a great funfair to being a minuscule one.

“The council is effectively stopping our gala from being what it was last year.”

Last week, Ewan Irvine, of Corstorphine Fair committee, said initial costs quoted by the council came to about £7000, though these had since been reduced.

The council said it acknowledged the importance of community galas in bringing people together and worked closely with organisers to enable them to go ahead safely.

A spokeswoman said: “It is essential that such well-attended events are managed in terms of health and safety. There are significant discounts in place to support local groups to stage events such as these.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com