Light festival falls victim to Covid pandemic
The Christmas woodland show launched by Rowen Events last year anticipated 50,000 visitors this year. In light of that, public safety concerns centred around the risk of granting new licenses to an event which could attract significant numbers of people from around Scotland, and therefore could present a real risk of being the source of a large outbreak. Licence applications were withdrawn and two more refused by West Lothian Council
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “It is unfortunate that the Beecraigs Festive Forest event is unable to take place this year due to public safety concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We supported this event last year and would engage with organisers regarding future events.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has led to similar concerns over other festive events that attract crowds leading to their cancellation, including Edinburgh’s Christmas Market and the Enchanted Forest event in Pitlochry.
“Whilst is it regrettable that Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact on events and the day-to-day lives of people, public safety is the overriding factor in the decision not to issue the licences sought for the event.”
He added: “The Licensing Committee decides each application on its own merits. It is not a like-for-like comparison to compare this new application with any other local attractions which have existing licenses in place.
“There is never a guarantee that a license application will be granted, which the Festive Forest organisers would have been aware of when they submitted their applications in October 2020.
“At this time, West Lothian was placed on Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Protection Levels due to the high levels of transmission. People were also advised not to travel out with their local authority area as part of a range of measure aimed at bringing down the transmission rate, which would allow the protection level for West Lothian to be reduced.
The organisers were present at the Licensing Committee and were provided with the reasons as to why this decision was made.
Stuart Sommerville, Local Democracy Reporting Service