Saturday, 1 August 2009

Events manifesto for Meadows

The proposed manifesto for governing events in the Meadows is on the agenda of the Policy and Strategy committee of the council on Tuesday 4th August (10:00am).

The long awaited document was hoped to be the guideline document for the management of the Meadows (and Bruntsfield Links) in the face of overuse of parts of the Meadows by the intensity of events in recent years. Damage to the grass surface and annoyance to some of the residents on the periphery of the Meadows (noise, diesel fumes etc) were the main evidences of overuse.

The issue pits the use of the Meadows as an open space jewel of Edinburgh for events which are part of the offer of Edinburgh to all, against the interests and concerns of some local residents. At the one extreme, some would have no events on the Meadows. At the other some would have usage for events more or less to continue as it has done for some years.

In fact, what is needed is a compromise which limits the density of use to preserve the condition of the Meadows - which will disappoint both sides. Local campaigners have exaggerated the damage issue whilst the recommendations in the report have not gone far enough in limiting the duration of major events.

The particular focus will be on the maximum duration of six weeks allowed for some major events. Rather too long - but then the limited period sought by some local campaigners does not take into account the reality and viability of events and their importance in allowing more people to make use of what the Meadows offers.

The real problem here is that there is not a clearcut decision making route. There is a lobby within the Council determined to preserve the use of the Meadows as part of the offer of the city (especially during the festival when venues are at a premium) and, on the other hand, local consultation has thrown up some strong opposition to that view. For two years (and for some time before that) there have been long drawn out discussions and consultations. A simple ajudication is required by the administration - and could have been done very simply in the space of a few months two years ago.

The manifesto is far from clear cut and will add another document to the red tape and process in which local authorities exell. Better half a dozen guidelines/rules and responsibility concentrated in a single person or post for the practical management of the letting of the Meadows.

You can read the proposals here.

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