‘Night Mayor’ could be hired in Edinburgh city centre to curb late night noise issues

Late-night events and venues in Edinburgh city centre are set to face a clampdown under plans to appoint the city’s first “Night Mayor.”

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 12:38 pm
Late-night events and venues in Edinburgh city centre, such as those in Rose Street, are set to face a clampdown under the new plans. Pic: Ian Georgeson

The city is set to follow the likes of Amsterdam, New York, Paris by hiring a “night-life coordinator” to help curb disputes with local residents and the authorities.

But it could lead to new restrictions on pop-up venues, festivals and one-off events, as well as more demands on licence holders and venue managers.

The “Night-Life Co-ordinator” may be tasked with ensuring event organisers lay on special transport services and abide by noise restrictions. However it is hoped they may halt the closure of long-running venues by resolving problems with new developments at an early stage.

Councillors will today discuss proposals to explore options for the role, which it could part-fund, over the next 12 months.

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They have emerged days after a wide-ranging official report on the future of tourism in Edinburgh admitted that there was already “concern about the impact of the night-time economy on residents in the city centre.” It also recommended “careful management” of events in sensitive and historic areas of the city, warning of a risk that they could prove a “tipping point” in the way residents feel about visitors to the city.

Last November councillors classed large parts of Edinburgh has having too many drinking premises, including the Old Town, Princes Street, Leith Street, Tollcross, Dean Village, the West End, Haymarket, Southside and the Canongate.

Green councillor Alex Staniforth, who has held talks with senior councillors on the issue, said: “My personal ideal would be that the role would be part funded by the council and part funded by the night-time industries so as to maintain an independent position and not beholden to any single vested interest, but would be working in everybody’s interest.

“They could ensure residents are comfortable with events scheduled to go on into the evening and night by liaising between residents and organisers. They could work with the licencing board, Lothian Buses and venues to ensure closing times are staggered to best match nearby night bus times rather than leave people standing around at the end of the night. They could work with venues that encounter issues that might force their closure.”

Tom Ketley, director of Fly Open Air, which stages dance music festivals in Princes Street Gardens and the grounds of Hopetoun House, in South Queensferry, said: “Protecting venues and promoters who provide the lifeblood in nurturing talent here should be important as artists don’t start playing in-front of 50,000 people - they hone their craft in small, local venues.

“A ‘Night Mayor’ to protect scenes, venues and people would be great and having a contact to independently liaise between these and council would be massively positive.”

Olaf Furniss, founder of international music business convention Wide Days, which is held in Edinburgh every year, said: “Having somebody who is able to connect across the many departments of the council, mediate in disputes and explain the positive contribution made by the music and club scenes, would be a very positive move.

“In order to be effective they should also be given the authority to ensure council officers and council committees work with them in a spirit of cooperation.

“They should also be part of a broader cultural policy which recognises the positive contribution venues, clubs and music events make to our city.”

However, Nick Stewart, manager of Sneaky Pete’s, in the Cowgate, which was recently named the UK’s best grassroots music venue, said: “The creation of a post of night-life co-ordinator is less important than gathering the stakeholders in the night-time economy into conversations with authorities and the wider public, with the aim to promote a vibrant, safe and popular nightlife.

“Cities who value their night-time culture can learn to do it well. If that process begins with a council working group that’s great, but it’s important to note that a city can’t just hire someone to be ‘night mayor’ and then think the job is done.”