City parks review poses threat to top events

The Lady Boys of Bangkok are Festival regulars on the Meadows. Picture: Sean Bell
The Lady Boys of Bangkok are Festival regulars on the Meadows. Picture: Sean Bell
Have your say

FEARS Edinburgh’s parks are being irreversibly damaged by the large number of events they play host to looks set to force a major review of the green spots.

A probe into the three-year-old parks manifesto would determine how large-scale events are managed at outdoor locations including the Meadows, Inverleith Park and Leith Links.

Rotating shows and festivals around the main parks and setting a cap on events to protect the sites could all be considered under the major review.

The shake-up would satisfy community groups upset over the damage caused to the parks.

Tollcross Community Council secretary Ann Wigglesworth welcomed the proposed review, saying only short-term events should be allowed on the Meadows.

She said: “We’re not very happy with the size of the large events. They’re the ones that do the damage, by and large.

“An event that lasts for two to four weeks and uses heavy equipment and marquees is unsuitable. The Meadows is a reclaimed loch and the water table is very high, so it easily floods, adding to the damage.”

The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links Advisory Group is also asking for the site to be given a year off.

The Lady Boys of Bangkok are among the acts heavily criticised for leaving acres of green space muddy, littered and torn up each year. The travelling group is a mainstay of the Edinburgh Festival calendar and set up on the Meadows for four weeks every summer.

Spokesman Tony Wilkie-Millar is less sure about any review that would force them away from their home.

He said: “The venue is 
synonymous with our show at the Fringe.”

Twelve major events have already applied for permission to head to city parks in 2014, with the Lady Boys, Edinburgh Mela and MoonWalk Scotland among them.

The MoonWalk will return to Inverleith Park next June. This month’s registration call has doused fears the event would be cancelled after delays in site approval for 2013 led to numbers being down by half, costing the charity around £1 million.

Nina Barough, founder of organiser Walk the Walk, said of the review: “There is a difference between charitable events and private money-
making events. I feel quite strongly that the MoonWalk is contributing a huge amount to the city. I wish part of that could be considered.”

A council spokeswoman said the city needed to find a middle ground. He said: “We have to ensure that we strike the right balance between maintaining the city’s reputation as an events destination and also protecting our award-winning green spaces.”

The review will start in January if the plan is approved at Tuesday’s environment committee meeting.