Kevin Buckle: What's so bad about a packed Princes Street Gardens?

Every now and again I'll put a picture on Twitter and it gets a far bigger reaction than expected. This week was one of those times and I can only think that it spoke to the ongoing issues over the Ross Bandstand and the use of Princes Street Gardens.

Saturday, 29th September 2018, 6:00 am
Crowds gather around the bandstand in Princes Street Gardens in 1890

It was something I had used before without too much reaction and despite searching I’ve been unable to find where it originated. The picture in question was simply titled The Bandstand, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh (1890) and shows a very busy scene around a packed bandstand.

While I’m broadly in favour of the plans for the Ross Bandstand it wasn’t meant to be a comment on the various stances people are taking but it certainly struck a chord. To be fair, few hammered the point home that a busy Princes Street Gardens was something that has been a part of Edinburgh life for more than a hundred years, choosing just to retweet and let the picture speak for itself.

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Ian Rankin fans will be treated to a short set by his band Best Picture during the event at the Queen's Hall. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Some of those against the development commented that they doubted this had been a ticketed event with boards to stop others viewing.

Whatever your thoughts it is a fact that there is no harm in the Gardens being busy and it is just a case of how that is achieved.

The worry is that, as seems to happen so often in Edinburgh, the whole project is delayed when really there is no need. I completely agree that the council has to think carefully about what it does with public spaces and there should be a limit on the number of events but the current figure being bandied about of 200 is no use to anyone.

Small events held inside a building are not a concern and it is the number of bigger more public events that people want to know about.

Also, none of the events held so far have been to my taste and indeed that of many others and it hasn’t been made clear whether smaller music events that cater for a different audience will also be feasible.

It should not be too hard to agree on a number of bigger events where there is some acceptable disruption and then it has to be realistically assessed exactly who are the residents that are being inconvenienced and how can this be minimised. To be honest I’m not entirely sure where these residents live for things to be such a problem.

There is no doubt that the Tattoo causes all sorts of issues from the seating needed to the noise it causes to the congestion that occurs before and after and yet it is rightfully seen as having an overall benefit.

There pros and cons to using Princes Street Gardens for events but another factor that crops up regularly is who will make money from these events.

People are understandably concerned that while a certain amount of money will be needed for maintenance potentially there is money to be made and some if not all of that should go back to the council.

The concerts in the Gardens this year brought pleasure to many thousands of people and almost certainly more locals than the Tattoo.

I can only hope that an agreement is reached sooner rather than later that takes on board the legitimate concerns that have been raised but does not cower to a small but vocal minority.

Ian Rankin’s back – and that’s no lie

Ian Rankin may only do the occasional gig with his band Best Picture but he is on tour with his new book In A House Of Lies.

Ian will be at the Queen’s Hall on October 16 discussing his new novel and, joined by Ralph BouHaidar, Consultant Forensic Pathologist for NHS Lothian, will be revealing what really happens in a murder investigation.

As an added bonus not only will Ian take the audience through a personal journey of the music that has shaped his life and influenced his novels but he will also play a short set with his band. As if that isn’t enough Ian will also create an exclusive soundtrack for the evening and be signing copies of his new book.

The event starts at 7.30pm. Get tickets from the Queen’s Hall website.

Find a place for a market, Paul

Paul Lawrence, the Director of Place at Edinburgh Council, may have a title some find off-putting but there is no doubt he has extensive experience of other cities, how they are looking to improve and what they have done already.

Consequently when Paul tweeted “Can I just say, if you haven’t been to Les Halles in #Narbonne, you’re missing out big time” I immediately checked that my initial thought that this was a famous indoor market was correct.

Indeed it is one of France’s famous daily indoor food markets and exactly the sort of thing I would regularly get asked about by visitors to Edinburgh. Along with an artists’ market it is clear that a daily indoor market is one of the most important things visitors are looking for and Edinburgh is lacking.

As I’ve said before a good indoor market should of course be just as valuable to locals so it is frustrating that even though it also seems to be a popular idea with the council there appears to be no plans.

As an idea an indoor market may not be as sexy as saving a theatre or cycling in the city centre but I would dare to say it will be more popular and successful should it be given a chance.

If anybody is capable of finding a place for an indoor market surely it should be the Director of Place so hopefully there will be news soon.