Everyone should be able to share in the Festival fun – Cammy Day

Now city’s arts extravanza is (almost) over the pressure for a tourist tax will be ramped up, writes Cammy Day

Monday, 26th August 2019, 6:00 am
The free concert at Tynecastle got the Festival off to a spectacular start. Picture: Alistair Linford

As the curtain comes down on our ever-famous international festivals, the city has celebrated artists and visitors from all over the world.

There is no denying that this diversity has contributed towards another fantastic vibrant atmosphere in our Capital city.

From the free concert by the LA philharmonic orchestra at Tynecastle Stadium to Sir Ian McKellen performing at the Assembly Rooms, all the way through to range of excellent performances during the Taiwan season at Dance Base, it has been as varied as it has been popular.

Cammy Day is the deputy leader of Edinburgh City Council

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Let’s not forget the eclectic range of street performers that keep the High Street outside the City Chambers alive all day and night!

Everyone should be able to soak up the festival atmosphere and I was pleased to see many of the festivals broaden their approach, taking cultural events into our communities, including Oxgangs, Leith, Moredun, Gorgie and Dalry.

I hope to see all of our festivals spread across the city in the coming years, taking some pressure of the city centre and allowing an even wider audience to participate.

That’s why it’s important to keep the pressure on the Scottish Government to deliver a tourist levy for Edinburgh, providing essential resources to support cultural growth, council services and festivals for all.

I’ll be writing to ministers this week to push forward our case for the powers we need to introduce a simple £2 a night charge on overnight stays.

Up to £14m could be raised every year to reinvest in managing our festival city, building on our work this summer to manage tourism pressures with Summertime Streets – which has made roads safer for pedestrians in the city centre – and the 40 additional staff we brought to clear litter, service bins and uplift fly-tipping to keep Edinburgh looking its best.

Meanwhile, out of view of the million culture-hungry visitors who will descend upon the city this month, are those who are struggling with the challenges of poverty who will find little refuge in the work and income opportunities afforded by the Festivals.

A key focus of our ongoing work with the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, which will soon publish its findings and recommendations, is to work with other leaders (across all sectors) on the steps the city collectively needs to take to reduce, mitigate and prevent poverty.

Finally, I was pleased to see full council support for Cllr Adam McVey’s adoption leave and I wish his new family all the very best.

In my role as depute leader I’m looking forward to fulfilling the council leader’s roles and responsibilities for that period, working with the coalition and cross-party councillors to continue delivering the very best for our Capital.

Cammy Day is the leader of the Labour Group on Edinburgh City Council