Edinburgh council incurred costs of over £600,000 following Queen's death
and live on Freeview channel 276
Council staff were involved in stewarding, traffic management, public safety and crowd management, cleansing and communications as the Queen's coffin was brought to the Capital for three days after she passed away at Balmoral on September 8. The coffin was taken in procession up the Royal Mile from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles Catherdal and then lay there at rest while members of the public were able to file past to pay their respects. There was also a ceremony for the proclamation of King Charles III. And the coffin was taken to Edinburgh Airport to be flown to London.
To oversee operations the council established an incident control centre and deployed officers to the multi-agency control centre at Fettes, which included Scottish Government, Police Scotland and other partner agencies. Many council staff volunteered to help support stewarding and other activities. And the authority also erected a giant screen in Holyrood Park to show the state funeral a few days later in London.
Council leaders have now submitted a claim to recoup most of their "Operation Unicorn" costs from the UK Treasury through the Scottish Government. But the council has already been told the £42,000 of parking income which it lost due to street closures will not be refunded. A report to this Thursday's full council meeting details the full costs for the 11-day "activation period" of Operation Unicorn in response to a call from Green councillor Alys Mumford.
It shows employee costs, including overtime, for staff involved in events totalled £212.157; catering, building hire, AV equipment and other services cost £201,196; contracted security and stewarding was £108,060; transport costs amounted to £31,975; and signage and other costs were £13,610. Together with the £42,000 lost parking income, that adds up to a total cost of £608,998. The council's submission is asking for £566,998.
But the report also says the cost could have been higher if the original Operation Unicorn plan for the Queen's coffin to be taken by train from Edinburgh to London had gone ahead instead of it being flown down. It said: "If the coffin was transported by train, this would have meant that Princes Street required to be closed for up to three days with associated impacts for residents and on public transport. As the change of plan was made some time ago and the estimated costs were not calculated at the time, it is anticipated that this change actually had a beneficial impact on the city’s transport network, on residents and is likely to have meant that the overall cost was reduced."