Procurement of Major Events in Parks 2017 - 2019

At its meeting on 30th August 2016, the City of Edinburgh's Transport and Environment Committee considered the procurement of major events in parks for the years 2017 to 2019. As far as the Meadows is concerned, this means what happens on the Meadows during the Festival Fringe each August. In years gone by, events using the Meadows paid a very small amount of money to use the park, but two years ago a tendering process was introduced so the rent charged is now much more realistic. The number and duration of events has also been reduced in recent years. FoMBL can claim some credit for the introduction of the tendering process and other changes as it has been continuously lobbying to help protect the area where events are held, and had pointed out that the previous rent charged for large events was nowhere near a market rate. It is our view that long events damage the site and that means it is a long time before the area can be used again by other park users - local people going to the park for recreation and exercise, playing football, frisbee, baseball, or whatever informal sports they want to use the park for.

The proposed Events Strategy to be followed by the Council for the next three years stated that events on the Meadows would last for 23 days, plus time for set up and de-rig. In all other parks except Princes Street Gardens the time limit is set at 15 days to include set up and de-rig. If an event lasts for more than 15 days the grass dies, but if there is a limit of 15 days there is a chance of a good recovery quite quickly. That's why the limit is set at 15 days for most parks. FoMBL has argued for some time that events on the Meadows should be limited to 15 days, and it was to argue that case that a deputation went to the Transport and Environment Committee on 30th August. Heather Goodare, FoMBL Convener, and Joe Boyle, who helps with Volunteering, spoke to the commiittee to make the point that 23 days plus is too long for events and they should be limited to 15 days. The Green Party councillors on the committee, Chas Booth and Nigel Bagshaw, had tabled an amendment to the proposed Events Strategy to that effect. Unfortunately the other members of the committee were not convinced, and their amendment was roundly defeated. So we are stuck with these long events until 2019 at least.

The other aspect of events on the Meadows is the money they bring in. When the new tendering process was set up it was decided that any extra money raised would be spent on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links. We have been keeping an eye on that and when we asked what the money was being spent on we were told "The extra money has been put into the general parks funding", which is not what was decided in 2014. However, when Councillor Melanie Main (Green Party) asked the question again at the full Council meeting on 26th August this year, the answer came back with a long list of projects that had been undertaken and how much has been spent on them. We were rather taken aback, and a bit suspicious. No one had consulted with us about much of this, and we have a list of things we would like done but were told we couldn't because there is no money. This situation was also highlighted by Heather and Joe in their deputation speech, and as a result the transport and Environment Committee has decided that FoMBL should be consulted more over planned expenditure on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links. One thing to be thakful for - well done Heather and Joe.

See What Heather and Joe said                   See what the Council claims the money has been spent on (See item 5.3)