Edinburgh Hogmanay inquiry after revellers crushed

The area which became congested on Hogmanay is usually a through-route. Picture: Duncan McGlynn

The area which became congested on Hogmanay is usually a through-route. Picture: Duncan McGlynn

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A SAFETY review will be carried out into crowd crushes at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay after the event was marred by chaotic scenes in front of one of the main stages.

Organisers have vowed to take concerns raised over the congestion problems on The Mound “very seriously”.

It is understood the review will focus on how huge numbers of people were allowed to congregate in front of a stage where Australian DJ Tom Loud was performing his hit Fringe show Hot Dub Time Machine.

The area at the top of The Mound is traditionally one of the main through-routes to Princes Street on Hogmanay, but became jammed with thousands of revellers. The City of Edinburgh Council, which has overall responsibility for the event, is also expected to explore whether a reduction in the number of police officers on duty was a factor.

The Scotsman has told how revellers had to scale spiked fences and clamber over safety barriers to escape the crush.

Organisers have confirmed extra resources had to be deployed to The Mound and that barriers had to be opened to prevent injury and curb congestion.

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Messages were posted on social media in a bid to alleviate the problem and address concerns from revellers, while Loud was forced to interrupt his show to broadcast appeals for calm.

Around 200 ticket holders managed to clamber over fencing into the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery, while others tried to make their way into a “safe area” in front of Edinburgh University’s New College.

One of those to complain to Unique Events, Dave Warnock, told The Scotsman: “The whole event was a disgrace from the start and I felt too unsafe to stay for the finish.”

In his letter, Mr Warnock said: “The only way to describe this event was traumatic. It was also clearly not the fault of drunken revellers – the event itself was simply badly managed.”

Another eye-witness, Martin Reade, told The Scotsman: “There were way, way too many people. If I had known it was going to be like that I wouldn’t have come.”

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “The congestion at The Mound and all complaints will be discussed at a debrief due to take place towards the end of January. The whole arena is continuously checked by on-the-ground staff, spotters and CCTV. Police and G4S stewards were aware of congestion around the stage on The Mound and contingency arrangements were put into action to prevent injury.”

Steve Cardownie, the city’s festivals and events champion, said: “We don’t want anyone to leave Edinburgh’s Hogmanay feeling they did not enjoy themselves or with concerns about public safety. This is definitely something that will be addressed.”

A spokesman for Unique Events said: “All complaints will be discussed at a debrief. We take all feedback very seriously and will use comments from our audiences to continuously improve the event and prevent potential safety issues.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, the police commander responsible for the event, insisted it had been successful, with just three arrests reported, none of which were for crowd disorder. He added: “The Mound area was monitored closely throughout the night and no reports of injuries due to crowd volume were received.”

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