Kezia Dugdale: Fireworks of last year must not be repeated

The police are taking steps to nip trouble around Bonfire Night in the bud
The police are taking steps to nip trouble around Bonfire Night in the bud
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This coming week will see many people across the city out guising and revelling as we approach Hallowe’en and the Bonfire weekend. Most of those out will be enjoying some harmless fun, dressed up as ghosts and ghouls or attending one of the organised firework displays across the city.

Sadly, we know from last year that many residents in the North East and North West of Edinburgh will be concerned about another rise in antisocial behaviour and the vandalism that swept through the streets with cars and property being damaged or destroyed. Our emergency service staff were all on the front line to respond to this wanton behaviour and even faced attacks themselves whilst responding to incidents.

This year local police have taken steps to implement four dispersal zones, which cover the areas affected by anti-social behaviour previously. The dispersal zones will operate between 2pm and midnight between Wednesday, October 31 to Tuesday, November 6 and mean means that police can instruct any people in groups of two or more who are congregating and behaving in an antisocial manner to leave the zones if they do not live there and not return for up to 24 hours. If they do return, they will be arrested.

The number of calls the police received over the same period last year rose considerably and a greater level of violence and damage was reported than in previous years. My office was inundated with calls from local residents in the affected communities asking for action to be taken and that’s why I support the police in this decision to protect local residents from disruption and alarm.

Hopefully this year everyone can have a fun and safe Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes night.

Festival of Light to banish the darkness is now more relevant than ever

With the clocks going back at the weekend, we will all be glad of the extra hour we had to enjoy our Sunday – and whilst the mornings are lighter, the longer, darker evenings are drawing in.

The Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, takes place next Tuesday November 7 – however, there will be events across Edinburgh this coming weekend to mark this year’s celebration. The festival celebrates “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”, which in current circumstances is a message I can certainly get behind.

The Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens will be the focus point of Edinburgh Diwali this Saturday where lanterns will brightly light the theatre and gardens and there will be an opportunity for children to light sparklers, all culminating in a colourful firework display from the castle slopes. I am always proud to see Edinburgh embrace and celebrate the diversity of culture and religion that exists in our city and believe we should be a beacon of tolerance and inclusiveness against those who seek to spread hate and divide people.

The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in the USA just days ago represents the worst of what can happen if we leave intolerance unchecked. On a different scale, the Sikh temple in Leith was attacked earlier this year, again motivated by intolerance against our minority religious communities.

Diwali is the perfect antidote to these attitudes and we should all take an opportunity to reflect on what we can personally do to promote these values.