Proposals for Xmas market 2020 – joint statement

October 8, 2020

The Cockburn Association together with the five City-Centre Community Councils have issued a joint statement to the City of Edinburgh Council’s Policy & Sustainability Committee in response to an update on Edinburgh’s Christmas Market and Hogmanay.

Overall, we support the direction of travel away from the arrangements that caused so much damage to East Princes Street Gardens and distress to residents in 2019/20. We remain of the view that the gardens are not appropriate for heavily trafficked events.

We recognise that the serious impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of public health and economic uncertainty mean that the Council needs to be extra cautious and fully transparent in considering how the city chooses to celebrate Christmas and Hogmanay this winter safely. Recent experience from Scotland and elsewhere strongly associates the transmission of Covid-19 with food and drink establishments and it is not clear from the report, how this will be managed especially given that this has been a major element of past offerings by the Christmas market.

Local businesses must come first and foremost. To this end, we suggest that there should be no pop-up bars or food outlets, as these act as direct competitors to local establishments who need all the help they can get.

The Cockburn welcomes the significant reduction in presence in East Princes Street Gardens, and the apparent deletion of the space deck that caused such controversary last year. However, commitments that all statutory planning consents must be robustly policed, and we have highlighted concerns in this regard.

We have advocated a full risk management process as well as enhanced security and people management requirements ensuring that any social distancing or other public safety guidelines are robustly adhered to. The paper going to the Council’s committee was light on detail. As such, we continue to have concerns about what might happen on the ground.

Finally, we ask for the Policy & Sustainability Committee to make a firm commitment to an early and comprehensive public review of the Winter Festivals. Indeed, given public statements made recently by VisitScotland and the various Directors of the Festivals on the need to scale back the various events, for which they have responsibility, a wider public review would be welcome.