Edinburgh residents fear comedy marquee in park may set precedent

Fran Whitton is worried the Lidl-sponsored marquee could set a precedent
Fran Whitton is worried the Lidl-sponsored marquee could set a precedent
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RESIDENTS are calling for assurances that a park taken over for a four-day run of Fringe shows will not become a regular venue for events in future.

Supermarket giant Lidl sponsored the “pop-up” in a marquee in Deaconess Gardens, off Nicolson Street in Edinburgh’s Southside. It featured children’s activities during the day and a paid bar and free comedy at night, including appearances by Phil Jupitus and Fred MacAuley.

Locals were angry they knew nothing about it until workmen started putting up the marquee last Tuesday and are worried it will set a precedent for future use of the area.

Fran Whitton, 52, who lives in the Pleasance, said: “This is an incredibly small space with private residential property on two sides and right next to a medical practice. It’s well used by local dog walkers and people with children.

“The marquee took up half the gardens and the other half was stinking of fumes from the generator running the bar.

“If we had known about it I’m sure a lot of people would have objected.

“We don’t want it to happen again. We understand there are moves to have more events to Nicolson Square, which is surrounded on four sides by residential property, so we’re worried this could become a precedent for the future.”

Southside SNP councillor Alison Dickie backed the residents. She said: “If I had seen this application I would have objected to it. I’ve met the organisers, who have been quite fair, but the bottom line is this should be used as green space for the community rather than corporate event space.”

She said across the city there was an increase in events taking over public parks, not least Princes Street Gardens.

And because the Southside was close to the city centre it was impacted more by festivals and other events spilling over from the Old Town.

Commercial markets had been proposed for both Nicolson Square and St Patrick Square.

“I will be keeping my beady eyes open for any more proposals in the area,” she said.

A council spokeswoman said permission was granted for the event in Deaconess Gardens earlier this year after consultation with local councillors, the community council and other stakeholders and no objections were received.