Gina Davidson: Gig-goers pose a wee problem

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IT was when a group of concert-goers decided to use our tenement’s communal front garden as a picnic site I realised that living in Roseburn wasn’t completely without its drawbacks.

I could understand why they thought our lush grass just a stone’s throw from the trickling Water of Leith and out of sight and sound of the throngs on the main street was the perfect spot to put up the disposable BBQ and crack open the beers. But It. Was. Our. Garden.

Of course I did nothing but watch them enjoy themselves. They were, after all, female Robbie Williams fans of a certain age. From Glasgow. Terrifying.

Then there was the time the stairs to the basement flats were used as outdoor loos by drunken male Eagles’ fans. And the episode where I finally felt forced into action, asking, of all people, a Celine Dion devotee, to stop abusing the staff of the local Chinese takeaway about the length of time orders were taking . . . not sure the Canadian songstress would have approved of the answer I received. Let’s just say there were more “fs” and “cs” about it than hearts and flowers.

It was also the middle-aged female Dion fans who were branded “the worst” by the friendly Italian family who ran the Ben Hur chip shop. They could cope with the rowdiness of Oasis or Rolling Stones afficionados, but a worse-for-wear woman warbling the theme tune to Titanic in between bursts of Irn-Bru and vodka-laced abuse (mostly about the fact they were offered sauce rather than vinegar with their chips) was too much for them.

Living close to Murrayfield Stadium definitely has its issues. Not that I ever saw any trouble with rugby fans – but concert-goers? Even though they’re the minority there are too many fans whose crap hits those who actually live there. It’s almost as if because they’ve paid a fortune for a ticket, it’s sunny and it’s the weekend, there’s no longer any need to behave in a civilised manner.

No doubt it’s the same story for anyone who resides near a stadium or arena – which is probably why new ones are built on the outskirts of towns. At least such events at Murrayfield are occasional, rather than having to suffer vomit-strewn, urine-soaked stairs and doorsteps every weekend as do those who live in the Grassmarket.

There is, of course, an upside to such big-name concerts which draw in thousands of people from all over Scotland; they are a financial boon to the small shops of places like Roseburn. But for the residents they can be a major headache – and not just because you’re woken way too early on Saturday mornings by the wail of feedback from a sound check.

Alcohol is the problem. There are only a few off-licences in the Roseburn area and a couple of pubs, but most of the travelling fans bring their own.

So while it’s not surprising that residents are mad that they’ve not been allowed to object to the sale of alcohol at Madonna’s huge gig at Murrayfield this summer – and it’s shocking that the council refused to hear their objections given that it was an official’s fault they missed the deadline by which they could do so – it’s not the real cause of the problem. It’s how much is consumed on trains and in pubs and parks before the fans even set foot in the stadium – or as the Murrayfield Community Council chairman described it this week, the “uncontrolled consumption”.

Madonna’s fans will be there for hours before the concert even begins, bringing their banners and their carry-outs – the debris of which will litter Roseburn Park, and the streets and gardens around the home of rugby. It won’t help that once they’ve finished their own booze they can continue to drink inside the stadium – and the mess they leave behind will require washing away rather than just putting in the bin – but the same rules should apply there as they do in any bar: if you’re drunk you don’t get served.

What’s really needed is a stronger police presence in the whole surrounding area in the hours before the gig, not to stop the carnival atmosphere, but to keep a check on the al fresco drinking, to ensure that the snaking queues at the takeaways are kept in order, that staff can serve without fear of abuse and that the residents can get in and out of their homes without being accosted by some rolling-eyed drunk with penis in hand looking to urinate in their pot plants.

It’s not asking for much. And I’m sure Madge herself would approve.

They’re robbing us

EDINBURGH City Council has a huge budget deficit. But it also has around £2 billion in assets and one of its largest is the Princes Mall, said to be worth around £50 million.

Yet this could soon be “sold” to David Murray – whose stewardship of Rangers football club in now being widely criticised – for a measly 40p. That can’t even buy you a can of Coke. It can’t buy you a copy of this newspaper. Even Rangers was sold by Murray for £1.

But the Scottish Government is quite willing to allow a change in the law which lets private leaseholders of property become owners if a lease has more than 100 years to run. It doesn’t matter if the property is “common good”, that is, it’s really owned by the people of a city. We are all being robbed by this legislation.