Christmas decorations branded “disrespectful” after being put up only yards from where Edinburgh’s Remembrance Sunday service will take place are to be taken down.
Veterans hit out last week at the decision of the council to put the decorations up on metal poles near the Stone of Remembrance before the service commemorating those who have died at war has been held.
Now city leader Jenny Dawe has intervened and asked for the decorations and poles closest to the memorial to be taken down by tomorrow, then put up again next week after the service.
Cllr Dawe said: “We have listened to the concerns of veterans and I have asked for decorations to be removed from the areas closest to where acts of remembrance will be taking place.
“Both Edinburgh and the council have a long and proud history of respecting our services, as we saw during Armed Forces Day earlier this year, and I want our relationship to remain strong.”
She said that the Royal British Legion Scotland has said it would be “more proper” for the Christmas lights to be removed. She added: “I therefore intervened to ensure that the public could pay their respects in the most respectful and fitting manner.”
The First Minister, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and Scotland’s Presiding Officer will all pay respects by laying wreaths at the stone this Sunday.
Concerns about the decorations were first raised by John Anderson, 48, a former musician in the military who served in both Iraq conflicts, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. He said: “I am very happy they have decided to take them down.
“The fact is that they put them up when they could have waited until after Remembrance Sunday. Now that she has decided to intervene and take them down is good news.”
Neil Griffiths, spokesman for the Royal British Legion Scotland, welcomed the move, adding that the decorations would have looked “strange” when picked up on national television. He said: “We were surprised because there were these festive decorations right above where the secretary of state Michael Moore and Alex Salmond would be, which would look rather strange on national television, as well as to the people at the ceremony.
“We’re delighted the council has been able to resolve this because they did say it had taken three weeks to put up these decorations. I’m sure next year they’ll remember to leave this set until after November 11.
“We don’t want to upset the council because they are a key ally of ours. It was clearly an act of thoughtlessness rather than any disrespect.”