Christmas market row is creating a mini-Brexit atmosphere – Helen Martin

OUR Capital is a troublesome place at the moment. There’s almost a mini-Brexit atmosphere with rows over Airbnbs, new bus routes, controversial green belt plans... and the Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 6:00 am
Scaffoilding erected in Princes Street Gardens for the Christmas market (Picture: Ian Gerogeson)
Scaffoilding erected in Princes Street Gardens for the Christmas market (Picture: Ian Gerogeson)

Commercialising that public park, covering it in scaffolding and market flooring, flipping memorial benches aside on their backs, was bad enough until it was revealed most of this horrendous deal with Underbelly wasn’t put before councillors, didn’t even have planning permission or safety approval, had a two-year contract extension, and was mostly negotiated by council officials.

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The council has already felled trees we loved which helped the city centre atmosphere, and that was met with extreme disapproval from the council’s employers – Edinburgh citizens.

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Council officials do sometimes remind me of Yes Minister, the TV comedy that pointed at civil servants who felt they were in charge of the government.

Often, these officials have done a grim job when it comes to dealing helpfully with the public. They foolishly think it’s about making their job and their staff’s jobs easier when the priority is actually making life easier for council tax payers.

Their admin goes through online portals so they don’t have to answer phones. Getting them to deal with complaints sometimes seems to be almost impossible.

This case involved not only “removing” the park but also installing an even bigger German Christmas Market that turns up everywhere in the world, is over-priced, with the same stuff every year and thus is dreadfully boring.

Now why would any official think they could do such a thing without council approval, let alone ignoring the obvious public outrage that would follow?