Heritage group demands ban on all-ticket events at historic Edinburgh concert hall

The Cockburn Association has declared war on “private” and “exclusive” events held in West Princes Street Gardens, although it has hosted outdoor concerts since at least 1877, the year after they opened to the public.

The group says the forced closure of events has allowed it to “re-evaluate” the importance of open spaces to the health and well-being of its residence and visitors.

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The Cockburn Association, which has warned that city council efforts to help events and festivals recover posed a threat to Edinburgh’s World Heritage status, tried to block the return of a music festival from dancing in the gardens this week.

Fly Open Air, which is expected to attract 4,000 festival-goers per day, is the first major event at the Ross Bandstand in almost two years and has already sold out.

The Cockburn association wants the “greenery and tranquility” of the park, opened to the public in 1876, to be a priority over the organization of events in the future, claiming that they were “not in accordance” with its key values.

His submission to council states: “The Cockburn, throughout its long history, has campaigned to protect Edinburgh’s parks and open spaces, including West Princes Street Gardens.

“We appreciate the willingness of the hotel and event sectors to resume their activities following the forced closure due to Covid.

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“However, Covid has allowed us to reassess the importance of open spaces to the health and well-being of the city for its residents and visitors.

“Our point of view is that West Princes Street Gardens is a public park, not a private event space.

“We have no position on what kind of activities or events are or are not appropriate.

“The issue is the impact on a public civic space in terms of accessibility, adequacy and well-being in the broadest sense.

Around 4,000 music fans are expected daily at the Fly Open Air Festival in Princes Street Gardens this weekend.

“At the end of the day, Fly Open Air is a private event that is driven by the need to offer exclusivity to ticket buyers at the expense of public access and enjoyment.”

However, a city center business manager, who asked not to be named, said: “The Ross Bandstand is a public space and should be used for the enjoyment of the people of Edinburgh. Fly Open Air is a great opportunity for people to have fun outdoors this weekend.

“The Cockburn Association doesn’t seem to want something to happen there, unless it’s low impact and calm, with very few people. They are revelers with this position.

Amy McNeese-Mechan, vice president of board culture, said: “We have worked closely with organizers and other partners, including police and ambulance services, to ensure that Fly Open Air can take place safely and in accordance with the latest advice from the Scottish Government and I want to pay tribute to the ‘Team Edinburgh’ approach that made this happen.

“This has been our approach to supporting the ongoing recovery of our festivals and events sector and, as we have seen with the extremely successful return of festivals this summer, careful planning and, if necessary, trade-offs can make a difference. their fruits. I sincerely hope that this will become a model for years to come.

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