Plans for a 'Meadows summit' after scenes of violence at favourite Edinburgh beauty spot
A Scottish parliament hopeful has revealed plans to hold a ‘Meadows summit’ - after witnessing ‘scenes of violence, anti-social behaviour and urinating/defecating in neighbouring streets’ over the weekend.
Alex Orr, who lives near the Meadows and is standing on the Lothian regional list as an SNP candidate in the upcoming Holyrood elections, wants community leaders, politicians, and emergency services to come together at a summit and deal with the issues surrounding the park.
An open letter, penned by Mr Orr, wants city leaders to bear in mind the history of the Meadows, and preserve it for future generations.
It reads: “I was struck as to what our forefathers responsible for creating and attending this would have thought after witnessing the events in the Meadows on Saturday.
“What occurred has been well documented, and I won’t spend much time on this, but the scenes of violence, anti-social behaviour and urinating/defecating in neighbouring streets and on the Meadows was something those of us living locally should not have to put up with. We have had enough.
“It should also be noted that this is not a one-off. Roseneath Place for example is commonly used effectively as a public toilet known as ‘the pee street’ and the rubbish left after such occasions on the Meadows is appalling. We are sick and tired of having to go out and clean up and am sure council workers have better things to do.
“Without urgent action a long summer lies ahead and what is happening is in clear breach of the Covid-restrictions.
“I am conscious that this has been a difficult time for young people, especially on their mental health, but behaviour like this cannot and should not be tolerated, especially as we are going through a fragile Covid-recovery.
“The Meadows is now ‘the place’ to go for teenagers, with thousands congregating and clearly overwhelming police, who I have considerable sympathy with and are in an incredibly difficult situation.
“Large groups are in clear breach of the Covid-regulations and it should be noted that these are not just local teenagers, with large numbers arriving in taxis/using public transport.”
In calling for a ‘Meadows summit’, Mr Orr, who is the managing director of Queens Street-based PR company Orbit, suggests action could taken on licensing, bins, CCTV, toilets, and the deployment of park wardens.
Mr Orr’s letter continues: “A Meadows summit needs to be implemented very quickly to look at what can be done to try and prevent this happening again through delivering an action plan.
“Not something in six-months time, but now.
“Such a group could involve key representatives from the council – council officials and councillors - MPs; community councils, Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, retailers and police.
“This can clearly be pulled together very quickly given the wonders of modern technology.”
The SNP leader of Edinburgh City Council, Leith councillor Adam McVey, said: "We're working with partners to address the issues which contributed to the appalling scenes in the Meadows.
“We will continue to have further direct dialogue with the police and others to make sure the safety of residents is protected.
“We're grateful for the swift action by parks colleagues and the police as well as local community leaders for the further offers of support as help.
“We will utilise all efforts in addressing these issues to avoid a repeat of this behaviour."
On Saturday, an Edinburgh police officer was taken to hospital with facial injuries after responding to reports of mass gatherings and fighting at the beauty spot.
A video, shared widely on social media, was taken by a Scottish rapper on his Instagram @jaad_rapper, and shows the dramatic scenes that include police breaking up the fights by wrestling people to the ground.
At one point, a man is smashed over the head with a glass bottle by someone he had been fighting with.
Three people have now been charged in connection with anti-social behaviour and a serious assault, and Police Scotland is appealing to anyone who witnessed other violent incidents in the park to come forward with information.
In particular, they are looking to speak to anyone who saw a 22-year-old man being attacked at about 19:30 in the Middle Meadow Walk or a 17-year-old man being seriously injured in the park around 18:40.
The MP for Edinburgh South, Labour’s Ian Murray, said police and the council should come up with an action plan to deal with trouble on the Meadows and the mess left behind from large gatherings.
He tweeted: “It’s a huge thank you to all the volunteers & council staff who cleaned up the Meadows again last night.
“We need an action plan from the council, police, govt, retailers to resolve the mess, violence, residential streets being used as a toilet & significant impact on the local area.”