Anger over fenced off Princes Street benches fuels call for Edinburgh council tax rebate

Benches on Princes Street have been fenced off. Picture: Juliet Wilson
Benches on Princes Street have been fenced off. Picture: Juliet Wilson
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RAGING residents have slammed festival organisers for fencing off benches on Princes Street.

A photo emerged online of the metal barriers surrounding a row of wooden seats popular with pedestrians taking a rest on the main thoroughfare.

The move soon drew the wrath of residents concerned at where elderly and disabled people can now relax - and calls for a council tax rebate.

Steven Clarke‎ posted the picture and said: “Welcome to Edinburgh, just don't expect to sit down on Princes Street as its been decided that making £££ is more important than your convenience.

“Odd how for decades the festival could be run without nonsense like this.”

And Mary Dytrych pointed out: “There are loads of oaps need to sit for a wee while. Where can they sit now?”

It further fuelled calls from one councillor for the authority to introduce a council tax reduction every August for local residents owing to curtain barriers at Princes Street Gardens.

Sighthill/Gorgie independent Cllr Ashley Graczyk said: “Free access to parks and the use of urban space for public benefit are fundamental components of our citizens’ “right to the City”.

“The needs of residents to use and access public space should always take precedence over commercial/big business interests.

“If Edinburgh Council is determined to keep increasing the use of public space for private benefit only then the council needs to seriously consider reducing council tax every August for all residents as compensation for loss of public benefit and public access because public space belong to the people.”

Cllr Graczyk: “Have Edinburgh council not learnt their lesson from last year. This is public space and these are public views for public benefit.

“Those curtain barriers should be removed as soon as possible or a council tax reduction every August for local residents should be considered.”

Lib Dem transport committee member Cllr Kevin Lang has written to senior officers demanding the barriers are removed.

“This is yet another example of commercial interests being put above the need of residents and visitors," said Cllr Lang.

"It is an outrage that these barriers have been allowed, halving the width of the footway at the busiest time of year and forcing people on the road.

"There are serious questions to be asked as to who authorised these barriers and with what authority.”

It emerged the barriers are in place from 4pm each show day and removed when the show is finished for public safety reasons

They were installed at the request of police to prevent people climbing on the railings and stop crowds gathering so forcing people to walk on the busy road.

A city council spokeswoman said: “At the request of Public Safety and Police Scotland, screening on Princes Street is required during Summer Sessions to prevent crowds gathering on the pavement adjacent to the bandstand and spilling in to the road.

"In addition to the curtain style screen, the benches along the same stretch are fenced off during event time only, to deter people from climbing, risking injury to themselves or others.”