Campaigners will rally against Donald Trump in Edinburgh on Saturday – but have been banned from marching down Princes Street as council officials revealed the protest will cost city taxpayers £30,000.
Scottish Government ministers have relaxed rules on road closures to allow the city council to put in rolling road closures for the Scotland United Against Trump march, which will leave from outside the Scottish Parliament at 12pm.
Organisers had wanted to march along George IV Bridge and Princes Street – but council officials and police put a stop to the plans after raising concerns about public safety and transport issues. The news of the decision came as Trump touched down in the UK for his first official visit yesterday.
The president’s arrival in the UK was delayed for almost an hour after he caused a firestorm at the Nato summit in Brussels when he threatened to pull the US out of the alliance unless other nations stumped up extra cash. He backed down over the threats when other leaders agreed to increase defence spending “like they never have before” and described himself as a “very stable genius” over the deal.
Theresa May was due to host Mr Trump and his wife Melania at a lavish dinner at Blenheim Palace last night.
After spending the night at Winfield House Mr Trump will hold talks at the Prime Minister’s Chequers country residence before travelling to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen. From there he will head to Prestwick Airport and his nearby resort at Turnberry under massive security. Protests have been scheduled there and in Glasgow tonight, before Edinburgh’s protest tomorrow.
The re-routed Capital march will now gather on Horse Wynd and go along Queens Drive, Abbeyhill, Abbeymount, past the US consulate and then onto Waterloo Place. The march will then go across North Bridge, South Bridges, Nicolson Street, West Nicolson Street, Chapel Street, Buccleuch Place, George Street Lane and the Meadows where music and other events will take place at a “carnival of resistance”.
The march and event at the Meadows will cost the council around £30,000 including £17,000 for the road closures. Organisers said they have “absolutely no clue” how many people will take part in Saturday’s demonstration but it is expected to be at least 10,000.
Pat Smith, one of the event organisers, said: “Trump’s horrific behaviour is almost the go-ahead for other leaders to behave in that kind of way.
“This event is standing against all the injustice that ordinary people in the UK, Scotland and across the world believe strongly about. He has made himself a symbol and an emblem of all that.”
She added: “My family come from the same island as Trump’s, and I think it’s important for us to say that we don’t welcome him and give the people of Scotland a voice.
“In Edinburgh, we are standing up against all the things Trump stands for. We wanted to go along Princes Street to show the world what we thought – but we are happy with the route and that everyone will be safe.”
Roadworks are taking place along Nicolson Street and council officers said they “expect them to be completed by Saturday”. If there is not enough space to accommodate protesters through the roadworks, organisers will be forced to change the route.
Police had objected to original plans to start the march at 11am – and have insisted it begins at 12pm. A letter to the council from deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone, said: “Any procession of this scale will have a significant impact on the general public and transport infrastructure.
“The policing resources required to support such an event will be significant during a busy summer period. Delaying the start of the event to 12pm would ease the logistical burden on Police Scotland to allow the necessary resources to be briefed and deployed.”
The 18 conditions imposed by the council include no flags or posters “bearing inflammatory images or words” and no vehicles or animals can take part without permission.