COMMUNITY leaders in the Aberdeenshire town of Stonehaven were celebrating today after ambitious plans to stage a Hogmanay concert featuring rock legends Simple Minds were finally given the go ahead.
The future of the New Year’s Eve concert had been thrown into doubt since it was revealed last month that Police Scotland had lodged an official objection to the concert because of concerns over public safety.
But members of the local Kincardine and Mearns area committee today unanimously agreed that the gig can go ahead this year in a town already famed throughout he world for its annual Hogmanay fireballs ceremony.
The councillors, however, have set a number of conditions relating to public safety and event management.
Almost all the 5000 tickets have already been sold for the concert - billed as “Stonehaven’s Open Air in the Square.”
After the five hour meeting, held behind closed doors, Councillor Carl Nelson, the area committee chairman, said: “This was obviously a significant licence application for the local area and one which we have treated very seriously.
“While there were significant police concerns about allowing the event to go ahead, if the applicants are able to comply with the range of conditions attached by the area committee we believe these concerns will be addressed, and Police Scotland will be involved further in the process.”
A council spokesman said: “The meeting of councillors was specially convened to give parties the due period of two weeks notice from the end of the consultation period, as required by law, and in order to have the matter considered as soon as possible.
“All relevant agencies and the organisers have been working cooperatively, and a number of meetings have been held over the course of this year to consider the issues which arise in planning a major event such as this.”
Jim Kerr, the Simple Minds frontman, had issued a statement, before the vital meeting, appealing to the council to keep the concert “Alive and Kicking.”
He said: “Simple Minds sincerely hope the show is able to go ahead. It would a colossal disappointment to us and so many of our fans, some of who are travelling from the other side of the world in the hope of spending a spectacular hogmanay in Stonehaven and indeed Scotland.
“With that in mind we ask the authorities to kindly take a positive view within their decision as well as making ourselves at their complete disposal in terms of any further discussions they might feel is necessary.”
David Lawman, vice chairman of Stonehaven Festival and Events, said: “We are simply over the moon that the area’s councillors unanimously decided to back this ambitious event which has put Stonehaven even more firmly on the map and attracted world-wide interest. If it had been cancelled it would have been a major embarrassment, not to mention a logistical and financial nightmare.”
He continued: “We were overwhelmed by the amount of support we received in the face of police opposition. Support from politicians, councillors, community groups, business and tourism groups, Stonehaven residents and, mostly, the thousands of fans who are looking forward to a Hogmanay to remember.
“Now we have to work extra hard to make up for lost time and appeal for much-needed sponsorship. We would appeal for any firms interested in supporting us to get in touch.”