Edinburgh protests spark consultation over procession guidelines

Anti-Trump protesters in Edinburgh last month. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Anti-Trump protesters in Edinburgh last month. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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A RISE in the number of protests being held in the Capital has sparked a new dialogue over the rules and regulations of organising such events.

This year Edinburgh has already played host to two protests over controversial US president Donald Trump, both of which attracted hundreds of people to the city centre.

Now council chiefs are calling for feedback on a new policy and code of conduct for holding such events, including protests, galas and other public processions.

Organisers are currently required by law to give the council at least 28 days’ notice, after which the event will be considered by officers, police and other interested parties.

But now the council has said it needs a more “clear and consistent approach”, stating: “In recognition of the growing number of parades and processions, the council has developed a detailed policy and code of conduct for parades and processions.

“The proposed policy and code of conduct aim to provide organisers with a greater understanding of the council’s expectations, and a clear and consistent approach for future event planning.

“The council would like to hear your views on the ­proposed policy and code of conduct.”

The consultation launch comes just days after hundreds of migrants gathered at The Mound to celebrate their contribution to the country.

It formed part of the nationwide One Day Without Us Campaign, launched last October in response to the growing racist and xenophobic discourse following the European Union referendum.

Michael Bridgman, licensing leader at the city council, said getting people’s feedback would ensure future events ran smoothly.

He said: “We recognise the positive impact of parades and processions in terms of freedom of speech, awareness-­raising and unity, but they can also present a number of challenges to the city.

“That’s why we want to ensure a clear and consistent approach to the future planning of such events, resulting in their smooth running and the safety of all those involved.”

When notified about a parade, the council considers its potential impact, for example on public safety.

Other considerations, such as the proposed route and whether music will be played, are also considered. If no objections have been received, they will then make an order confirming an agreed route, imposing conditions where appropriate.

While the council does not grant permission to hold parades or processions, it must be notified in advance. Failure to do so would result in the event being deemed illegal.

The consultation runs until March 31 and can be completed on the city council’s website.