Edinburgh event organisers told to pay living wage, protect green spaces and ‘respect city’s identity’ in future

Companies planning to use public spaces in Edinburgh for events and filming will have to pay all workers the "living wage", promise to restore any damage to parks and gardens, and show how they will "respect” the city's cultural identity under new rules drawn up by council officials.

Event organisers may be asked to impose a new ticket levy on audiences to ensure local communities and facilities reap some benefit.

Due to take effect from the spring, the tighter guidelines are designed to give local people more of a say on the staging of events and filming on their doorsteps, as well as limit possible disruption and damage.

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However the application process is expected to be simplified for event organisers seeking to use spaces such as Princes Street Gardens, the Meadows, Calton Hill, Inverleith Park and Leith Links.

An acrobat from La Meute flies over the Circus Hub, the Fringe venue on the Meadows. Picture: Jane Barlow

More than 1500 people responded to an official consultation on the new guidelines after initial talks were held with community groups, festival organisers and promoters including DF Concerts, the Beltane Fire Society, Fly Events, the Meadows Festival, Underbelly, Assembly and Unique Events.

Under new events and filming guidelines, expected to be approved this week, the council has pledged “maximum transparency” over any contracts it awards for its own sites, as well as how much income it generates from events.

It has stopped short of promising residents a "veto" on applications, but has promised to “mitigate any unavoidable negative effects as far as possible.”

And the authority has said that some events may still be granted "in exceptional circumstances" even if they do not meet the new criteria, as long as the application is "red-flagged" to senior council officers and local councillors.

Edinburgh's Christmas market is a huge draw to Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Lloyd Smith

Organisers of large-events are being asked to give the authority up to 12 months’ notice of their plans, with a minimum of 12 weeks notice for all events and 16 weeks if planning permission is needed, for pop-up venues due to be in place for more than 28 days.

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The new guidelines state that organisers of “commercial” events will be asked to highlight community benefits they will deliver.

They add: “This could include, for example, a £1 ticket levy to fund local initiatives or invest in local facilities.”

Reinstatement bonds will be requested where there is “a reasonable risk” of damage being done to green spaces, which the council insists must be protected to allow a swift return to their “pre-event condition.”

Festival Square in Edinburgh was home to the Van Gogh Alive art show earlier this year. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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All organisers will have to confirm they will pay the living wage, comply with official “welfare commitments” for events and festivals staff, and follow the council’s official guidelines on volunteering.

The new guidelines state: “Information on events and filming will be as open and transparent as confidentiality allows and proportionate to the scale of the activity and the impact it will have. It will be provided at the earliest opportunity, to all those who may be interested in it.

“Communication must be sufficient and accessible to allow anyone who may be impacted by events and filming to understand the disruption and if needed make alternative arrangements in a timely manner.

“As with planning applications, engagement can provide comment to be taken into account. While this will not automatically veto an event or filming, stakeholders will be entitled to an explanation where their views are not upheld.”