Saturday, June 28, 2008

Save Our Old Town Street Party Cancelled

Street party organisers see red over Orange march blunder

Published Date: 28 June 2008


A STREET party planned for today has been cancelled after organisers were told at the last minute it clashed with an Orange march.

Hundreds of people were expected to attend the community event in the Canongate, which has been planned since April.

But council officials failed to notice until last week that the annual march had already been given permission on the same day. Around 420 people from the John Knox District Lodge No. 5 are set to march through the city centre this afternoon.

The Canongate Community Forum said it had no choice but to cancel the event. Organisers had already spent hundreds of pounds on planning the party, and had expected several hundred people to attend.

City centre SNP councillor David Beckett said he was writing to the council to complain and ask for compensation.

He said: "This is really disappointing.The thing that really annoys me is they knew about the Orange walk in March. I can understand the organisers' frustration. It was only last Friday that they decided that the street party couldn't go ahead."

The Canongate Community Forum had planned the party to coincide with the closure of its office on St Mary's Street, as well as celebrating the beginning of the school summer holidays.

Chairwoman Catriona Grant said members could not believe it when they were told last week of the double booking.

She said: "We did everything correctly. We applied for permission in April, and we've been in correspondence with the council since then. We'd already spoken to the chief constable about the road closures. Then they said there had been an oversight, and the Orange march had already been agreed.

"They tried to persuade us to move up East Market Street, or finish earlier. But the marchers will be disembarking at about 3.30pm, and we didn't want to be squeezed on to a little bit of ground outside the council headquarters.

"We've already spent hundreds of pounds on booking the bouncy castle and other entertainments. We're not a big organisation."

A council spokeswoman said: "During the summer period there is an extremely busy schedule of events in the city.

"In this case as soon as a the clash was noted a compromise was offered. This meant the street party would have moved one block down the street and the assembly point for the march would have also been moved. Unfortunately the street party organisers were not happy with this."