Protesters planning to march through Edinburgh while US President Donald Trump visits the UK will only be given three days notice as to whether it will be given the green light.
Councillors on the City of Edinburgh Council’s Sub-Licensing Committee agreed to delay a decision to allow the march by Scotland United Against Trump to take place after failing to reach an agreement with organisers. A special meeting will now be held to determine the licence application on Tuesday 11 July, three days before the rally, which could see up to 10,000 demonstrators march through Edinburgh, is due to be held.
Regulatory services manager Andrew Mitchell said: “The route will include The Meadows, George IV Bridge, Princes Street, Regent Terrace and the Parliament.
“Our concerns centre around the extent and scale of the route. As well as requesting the use of Princes Street, which has clear problems regarding transport, the route also proposes the closure of a number of north to south arterial routes. There are also only 30 stewards for up to 10,000 people, whereas maybe 300 stewards would be needed.
“It seems quite clear that there is a real issue with how we manage the traffic so that the protest itself is safe.”
The council has only banned two marches in the last six years and protesters could have only three days to ensure that all conditions will be met, if approval is given for the July 14 event. Public safety manager John McNeill said council officers had preferred a “static demonstration” without a march or procession.
Police Scotland also raised concerns over the plans as no official road closures could be put in place due to the small time-scale until the event is scheduled to take place.
Pat Smith, speaking on behalf of the organisers, said: “We feel very strongly that Trump’s UK visit cannot go unmarked.
“We wanted the route to be as visible as possible so people are aware that we are making this statement – people across the world can see what statement we want to make. Cllr Gavin Barrie supported the principle of the march but was worried about the disruption the proposed route would cause. Cllr Cathy Fullerton added: “I think the council is anxious to facilitate some kind of process.
“Given the difficulties we have got about reaching an agreement, I’m going to propose that we hold a special meeting on July 11, where we can decide an outcome.”
A Council spokesperson said: “The council wholeheartedly supports the right to freedom of expression and in the vast majority of cases facilitates the staging of processions and demonstrations by a range of organisations.”