August in Edinburgh can be love it or hate it for the people that live in the city centre – year in year out. Between the Fringe Festival, the International Festival, the Book Festival and many many this time of year and at other points we are fast coming up on saturation point.
Let me first say it’s great to have a busy city, with an international arts festival but it has to work for locals and visitors alike.
I’m against the overflowing bin litter, the full to bursting streets, the food vendors price hikes, the money the Council uses to subsidise the festivals. Then we have the clean up, the grass being relaid in parks and St. Andrews Square taking till winter to start looking lovely again. And then the Winter Festivals begins and so it starts all over again.
Overall we have a small city. Walkable and lovely. From the Newtown to the oldtown, a world city, with world heritage status that we want to share, but the cost can be really high for locals.
The Grassmarket, which narrowly avoid a much larger festival in 2105 for Christmas; with all the noise, events and litter that would entailed – especially when the Victorian Christmas event is entirely surrounded by a local community that is already at breaking point. A local community that lives in the area 24/7 year in year out.
Residents said the scale of the proposed Grassmarket event was much bigger than the weekly Christmas craft stalls held in previous years. Bill Cowan, chairman of Old Town Community Council, said: “This will take up the whole Grassmarket – I can tell you that the residents in the Grassmarket, quite a number of them, very much object to such a large event taking place in their front yard.
The Tattoo are looking at starting a winter Tattoo, and if its again on the Castle esplanade are we going to put up with the scaffold seating dominating the city skyline again?
With ever more tourists, hotels and new student housing developments threatening the communities that live in our historic city day in day out. Businesses only ever see pound signs.
The Council has stated it wants to attract one new major event each year for the next ten years. to the city. The Council want to charge a bedroom tax on visitors, which could go to support the festivals, which to be honest if they weren’t making money, wouldn’t turn up year in year out. We have a Council that is keen to put economic development it would seen before the local communities that live in the city. Yet still now over the year of events the Council subsidised the festivals to the tune of £4 million.
How many new schools or teachers would that buy the city? Or repairs to potholes or whatever you think should take priority.
The Council is in debt, Services are suffering or actually being cut. We could raise money a Council Tax rise, currently blocked by the Scottish Government. Perhaps not popular but needed.
We need to talk out the future of Festivals, planning, locations etc. in our City. One recent report said that over the year the festivals added up to Edinburgh putting on the World Cup. Year in year out. We need a decisive Council that can lead on this and not just pile in more festivals, month in month out, much to the detriment of the local communities that live and surround this great city of ours. And live here year in year out.