Foodies Festival has no 'legal basis' for charging Edinburgh public entry

Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park last year. Picture: TSPL
Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park last year. Picture: TSPL
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A food festival in Inverleith Park has no legal right to charge ticket holders to enter after failing to obtain a formal order from Edinburgh City Council, an MSP has claimed.

Andy Wightman said that an official order under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 had not been lodged by the Foodies Festival for its event in the park this weekend, which he believes means that no member of the public should be denied access to the land.

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He warned that allowing such events to take place encouraged a “creeping culture” of fencing off public land for private events in the city.

Regular fixtures held in the park, such as Sunday’s weekly Junior Parkrun, have been cancelled as a result of the festival.

Tickets for the event, which features celebrity chefs including Great British Menu Winner Lorna McNee and a performance from a Spice Girls tribute band, range from £19 for a standard adult day pass to £38 for a VIP entry.

Edinburgh City Council said that it had been decided that an order was not needed to allow the event to take place and that it was instead taking a “pragmatic approach” to the festival.

Mr Wightman said: “It turns out that there is no Section 11 Order suspending access rights to the part of Inverleith Park where Foodies Festival are setting up an exclosure. Thus there is no legal basis for charging anyone or denying them access.”

He added: “Not paying attention to Section 11 orders encourages a creeping culture of fencing off public assets without due process. Where you fence off an area of land where there is a right of access, that should require an order.”

He said that anyone who may want to enter the fenced-off area of the park without paying for a ticket for the festival should ensure they have a copy of Section 11 of the Land Reform Act with them.

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An email from a representative for Edinburgh City Council, sent to Mr Wightman, said: “I can advise that a Section 11 order was not applied for or issued for the Foodies Festival event.

“Advice from the Access Forum regarding Section 11 orders and events within parks, their opinion was that a pragmatic approach should be taken, as long as the event does not take up the whole park and access to core paths was not inhibited, there should be no requirement to seek a Section 11 order.”

The email added: “The parks and greenspace officer for Inverleith Park has informed me that some of the site is fenced off, this is for public safety reasons, he has informed me that access can be granted by the site manager.”

Foodies Festival, which holds a total of seven events across the UK over the summer months, has been contacted for comment.