Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Care not cotton wool for the Meadows

It is sometime since this newsblog has carried a post on the issue of the number of events on the Meadows. Council staff have negotiated most major events away from the Meadows and there are now three major events left in August.

The Urban Circus, which incorporates the Lady Boys event is scheduled to take place from 7th to 31st August and is moved to a new pitch on the north side of the Meadows just east of Middle Meadow Walk. In addition, the Parks Department have agreed a let to the usual Evans funfair for 5th to 15th August (2pm to 10:30pm). The latter is subject to approval at the Licensing Sub-committee which meets on Wednesday 15th July and is not on the usual site next to Melville Drive.

In achieving a better balance of activities and between organisations (commercial and charitable), the last couple of years has been a painful experience. There has been a working group meeting regularly which has particularly represented the views of some local people. The lack of clarity of participants on who is responsible for decision taking and how to reconcile local and wider city interests has added to frustrations. The short notice and uncertainty for organisers planning events has also been very disappointing.

However, progress has been made in drawing up guidelines so that the competing interests at least know the ground rules. Serious consideration is also being given to upgrading the maintenance of the events area.

Much has been done in recent years to meet the views of local residents and to protect the appearance of the most used parts of the Meadows. For example, there have been reductions in the times and duration of some events. There has been a significant reduction in the number of events and protective surfacing has been installed at suitable access points.

One disappointment has been the negative attention which has been created by some campaigners for change who have overstated their case. The Save our Meadows campaign has, at times, hit the wrong note implying that the Meadows are just for local people and allowing the extent of surface damage and its effect, to be exaggerated. Visitors and local people alike marvel at the fantastic 63 acres of green space we have in this part central Edinburgh and we need continually to celebrate the benefits we enjoy bequeathed by our predecessors.

Care not cotton wool is the apt summary of one person's view expressed here. (See here for another article today.)

A procedure which leaves the question of granting permission for an event to a few days before the event is a procedure which needs revision! As has been done in previous years the operating hours need to be reduced from a 10:30pm close to 10:00pm. In future years the question of the funfair needs to be judged against the rules that are currently being drawn up.

The bigger issue here is to make changes to the system of authorisation of events in the Meadows which is bureaucratic and cumbersome.

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