Edinburgh New Year party-goers caught in crush

Fireworks from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle light up Scotland's capital to mark the start of 2015. Picture: Jane Barlow
Fireworks from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle light up Scotland's capital to mark the start of 2015. Picture: Jane Barlow
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HOGMANAY revellers in Edinburgh have complained of crushing, despite police chiefs insisting the street party was a “spectacular and safe event”.

Serious congestion problems were reported at the top of the Mound, where Australian DJ Tom Loud was performing his Hot Dub Time Machine show.

About 200 revellers started to scale a spiked fence next to the Scottish National Gallery shortly after 10pm to escape the crush, while Loud had to appeal for calm among the crowd during his set.

There were further chaotic scenes around 11:30pm when about 200 revellers clambered over crush barriers as they tried to get into a “safe area” at the top of the Mound.

The area in front of New College, beside the Hot Dub stage, had been opened up by police at about 11:30pm.

At one point, officers could be seen pleading with revellers to head down the Mound.

Organisers yesterday said they accepted the area around the Hot Dub stage had been “very busy” and some people had found the experience “uncomfortable.”

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Mark Bowe, 51, from Utrecht, told The Scotsman: “It was pretty scary, there was a lot of chaos and I had to get out of there. There was far too many people in a space of that size … There were a lot of stewards when you came in the gates, but not many when you were in there.”

At one point around half an hour before the bells, Loud told the crowd: “If you’re in a tight spot and packed in, give the people around you a cuddle, don’t push them.”

Organisers Unique Events also issued a number of safety messages online pleading with revellers to remain calm.

The Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Twitter feed was filled with warnings and protests from revellers. Kathryn Harrison, said: “Crowd control non-existant. Been crushed against railings with people jumping over to save themselves.”

A spokeswoman for Unique Events said: “Police and stewards were on hand throughout the evening monitoring the event and where necessary to open safety barriers, which are placed throughout the arena for exactly this purpose, to relieve congestion.”

Speaking after the street party had wound up, the event’s police “gold commander” insisted it had gone well.

Chief superintendent Mark Williams said: “There were only three arrests at the street party and those were for minor public order offences … the festival passed off smoothly with no major issues.”

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