'Hyper bloated commercialism' - Edinburgh residents furious at scale of Christmas Market scaffolding as construction gets underway

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EDINBURGH residents have voiced fury over the scale of Christmas Market scaffolding as construction gets under way in East Princes Street Gardens.

One angry objector labelled it "hyper-bloated commercialism" and another accused the council and organisers Underbelly of sticking two fingers up at Capital residents.

The festive market is taking over more of the gardens this year in a revamped layout to fit in with the re-landscaping carried out as part of a £22 million project to improve access to the Scottish National Gallery.

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But despite the strong feelings displayed by some, the annual Christmas markets continue to grow in popularity.

Scaffolding for the Christmas Market goes up in East Princes Street GardensScaffolding for the Christmas Market goes up in East Princes Street Gardens
Scaffolding for the Christmas Market goes up in East Princes Street Gardens | jpimedia

Last year, Edinburgh's city centre's Christmas celebrations attracted more than 900,000 visitors, with post-event surveys showing an overwhelmingly positive response.

This year's market will see a record 163 different stalls and bars erected across East Princes Street Gardens and The Mound precinct.

When New Town and Broughton community council posted a picture of the scaffolding going up, there was an outcry on Twitter.

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Seonaid MacKenzie said: "This is really disrespectful of all the residents of Edinburgh. Basically Underbelly and the council have stuck up two fingers to edinbuggers saying they only care about tourism and £££. This will be the 3rd year in a row I boycott Edinburgh at Xmas. NGS, lifelong boycott now."

And Jennifer Longstaff added: "First Christmas in 12 years I think I will totally avoid the anything Christmas related in the city. Hate how the council are allowing companies to destroy and take over the gardens which belong to the people of Edinburgh."

Craig Flunkert appealed to the council: "Pleas stop this." And he went on: I "like Chrismas markets as much as the next person but this crosses the line into crass, hyper-bloated commercialism. Why can't gardens just be gardens?"

Last year there was a row when more than 50 trees in East Princes Street Gardens were chopped down about a fortnight before the Christmas market preparations began. The felling was to pave the way for the revamp for the National Gallery entrance. Underbelly, Edinburgh Council and the gallery have all denied any link with the use of the ground for market stalls.

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A spokeswoman for Underbelly said “Last year over 900,000 people visited Edinburgh’s Christmas, 99 per cent of people surveyed rated Edinburgh’s Christmas very good or good and eight out of 10 visitors would be very likely to recommend Edinburgh’s Christmas, this speaks for itself. The noise on Twitter at the moment is driven by a handful and is not representative of the vast majority of people in Edinburgh or elsewhere who continue to vote with their feet.”

Cllr Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener said: “As announced in June, Underbelly agreed to make significant additional investment in their infrastructure in order to preserve the improvement works being undertaken by National Galleries Scotland. These works will be completed in the New Year alongside the usual reinstatement of the Gardens.

“While the overall footprint of Edinburgh’s Christmas in the city centre is smaller than previous years, I have no doubt that the markets and other attractions will continue to be as popular with residents and visitors as they have in the past.

“Let’s not forget that, in addition to part-funding the three-day Hogmanay festivities, income from Edinburgh’s Christmas has also funded improvements to visitor services at the Scott Monument and City Art Centre; delivered the city’s Festivals and Events programme; supported the Burns & Beyond Festival; and supported the seven-day operation of the city’s museums and galleries.

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“That said, we recognise the need to strike the right balance between sustaining the success of our festivals against the impact on the city and our residents – which is why we are planning a broader conversation with residents, businesses and other stakeholders about how we want our winter celebrations to look in future.”

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