Occupy Edinburgh: Going, going, gone... but where to next?

THE banners have gone, the tents have disappeared and the protesters vacated – for now.

The only sign left to suggest Occupy Edinburgh has been inhabiting St Andrew Square for the last three months is the state of the grass and a pile of rubbish still to be collected.

Earlier this week, the group announced it would leave St Andrew Square voluntarily to avoid a forced eviction, with the last of the protesters packing up their belongings and leaving the site yesterday.

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However, the group said while it may have vacated the square, it would continue its campaign at another location in the city within the next week – but refused to name the new site.

Some members of the camp said the square would remain a “focal point” for their campaign.

Pete Nicholson, 26, who has been part of the Edinburgh camp, said: “The movement is not going anywhere and will be taking a physical form somewhere else in Edinburgh.

“We have decided where that will be and we will set up there within the next week.”

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He added: “We might have been moved on in terms of sleeping in the square, but we will continue to use it as a focal point for our campaign.”

Another member of the camp, Martin Connell, who lives in the Pleasance, said the group would today set up a stall in the square and hand out leaflets to promote the campaign.

The 21-year-old, who works as a cleaner, said: “We are not allowed to live in the square, but we can do other things.”

A sheriff held off issuing an eviction decree to Essential Edinburgh, which is responsible for running the garden, after being told that all the protesters would have left by 5pm yesterday.

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Representing Occupy Edinburgh, William Black told Sheriff Katherine Mackie at the city’s Sheriff Court that the decision to leave the site had been made “to show our respect for the city, our city”.

“We will continue the protest,” he said. “It is a worldwide movement against corruption and corporate greed.”

Mr Black said arrangements had been made with Essential Edinburgh for the provision of a skip and litter bins so they could leave the garden in a “good and tidy manner”. He added that protesters had begun leaving the square on Tuesday and 99 per cent of them had vacated. The remaining one per cent, he said, would have left the square by 5pm yesterday.

For Essential Edinburgh, solicitor Stephen Farrell asked for the eviction decree to be granted, but to come into effect today because there may be some people who had attached themselves to the movement and who would not leave.

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Sheriff Mackie said if the site was evacuated completely, no order would be necessary, but if it was not, a decree could be sought this morning. Both sides agreed and the case was adjourned until today.

Occupy Edinburgh initially enjoyed significant support, including from the city council and Essential Edinburgh but it ebbed away, largely due to the condition of St Andrew Square.

Several of those associated with the movement have also appeared in court in connection with antisocial behaviour.

A spokesman for Essential Edinburgh said: “We warmly welcome the fact that they have taken the decision to leave.”