Curbs on amplified music, concerts and fireworks proposed for Edinburgh's Old Town

Amplified music would be outlawed in pubs and outdoor concerts in Edinburgh city centre would be banned in future under proposals put forward by people living in the city's historic Old Town.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 5:42 pm
Crowds thronging the Grassmarket at the annual Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.
Crowds thronging the Grassmarket at the annual Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.

Permanent restrictions on fireworks displays above Edinburgh Castle, the Tattoo, buskers and silent disco operators are all being demanded in a new dossier.

It calls for the city to introduce new limits on the operation of pop-up venues for events like the Fringe, calling for them to be “spread more widely across the city.”

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Permanent curbs on concerts in Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle esplanade are also proposed in the report published by the Old Town Community Council.

People living in the Old Town are unhappy at disruption caused by fireworks above Edinburgh Castle. Picture: David Wilkinson

Compiled by people living in and around the Grassmarket, it suggests that unless urgent there will be a total exodus of local residents from the city centre.

People living in and around the Grassmarket want to see new curbs on events like the Tattoo and the Castle Concerts, as well as restrictions on fireworks, silent disco groups and buskers. The dossier says that pop concerts "should not be part of any festival offering" in Edinburgh.

The dossier states: “When the Edinburgh Festival was launched in 1947, Edinburgh was not a tourist city whereas now the summer festivals clash with the height of the tourist season. This adds considerably to the stresses experienced throughout the Old Town.

"While we do not wish to see the Fringe lose its original ethos of anyone being welcome to perform, some measure of controlling numbers is urgently required rather than opening up residential public spaces to allcomers.

Visitors have returned to Edinburgh's Old Town in recent months. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

"Despite efforts by residents, the police and the council to ban busking using amplified music, this remains a problem especially in August.

"A radical solution would be to ban all amplified music in the Old Town, from the Tattoo to individual pubs. It would make life a great deal less stressful for both residents and workers.

"We do not consider that pop concerts, which cause disruption not only to residents but also other festival performances, should be part of any festival offering. They attract a different audience which could easily be housed outside the city centre.

"The need for festival venues other than theatres and concert halls to be crammed into the city centre has to be questioned at a time when demand is sufficiently high for events and any attendant economic benefits to localities to be spread more widely across the city. Controlling the use of venues may also be a way of reducing the impact of the Fringe on the city centre.”

Music Venues Trust spokesman Nick Stewart, who manages Sneaky Pete’s, one of the Old Town’s best-known music venues, said: “People averse to living in vibrant thriving cultural areas, where diverse communities across all social strata can engage easily with culture, and where artists can learn and practice their craft, should seek out places to live that are culture-free.

“Edinburgh is world renowned as a vibrant cultural city, it always has been and it should remain so. At this time when the arts are particularly under threat, seeking to restrict arts in the community seems worse than mean. This isn't about hotels and tourism - it's about the very beating heart of this amazing city itself - and arts for the people of Edinburgh.”

He added: “Councillors have a duty to their community councils, but they shouldn't forget that they tend to be made up of specific demographics and are rarely representative of the actual communities they serve.

"The city centre is not just there for the residents of that ward either, but for the whole of the city. It's everyone's front garden not just certain people's back yard.”

Garry Clark, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The cancellation of the festivals in Edinburgh this year has allowed people’s minds to focus in different ways.

"For many city centre businesses, the absence of the festivals and the people they bring to the city from across the UK and the world has been devastating.

"Their priority is survival and, hopefully, better times ahead.

“Whilst future festivals must of course co-exist with the city and its residents, the priority for the next year must be to find a way for the festival to proceed and to attract as many people back to the city as it is safe to do.

"Edinburgh’s character is a diverse blend of its people, its events, its businesses and the visitors it attracts. Now more than ever we need to restore the magic of that mix.”

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