Trapeze stunt above Cowgate ‘put lives at risk’

Circus artists Josa Koelbel and Bellina Sorensson perform their trapeze stunt hanging from the George IV Bridge. Picture: Jane Barlow
Circus artists Josa Koelbel and Bellina Sorensson perform their trapeze stunt hanging from the George IV Bridge. Picture: Jane Barlow
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TRAPEZE artists who dangled from the 60ft George IV Bridge “endangered people’s lives”, it has been claimed.

The Fringe act Dolls, who work with the Cirk La Putyka, carried out the stunt with traffic below on Friday night.

Josa Koelbel and Bellina Sorensson, from the Czech Republic, dangled from the bridge, as shocked passers-by looked on.

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan said: “Someone could have died and it is sheer luck that nothing happened.

“As a bit of publicity this is wrong, and they should be warned to not let it happen again.

“This was excessively dangerous. In the Festival, performers try to go the extra mile to get their act noticed with stunts or through people running naked through the street.

“An accident could have happened and while I’m not in favour of all the health and safety measures, this could have been lethal.”

The trapeze artists hung by a rope, while angry motorists below beeped their horns.

It is understood police are now looking into the incident.

The performers did not have a licence to carry out the stunt in public and it is doubtful if it would have been permitted to go ahead.

Onlookers reported seeing the circus act standing on the bridge, waiting for nearby police officers to pass by.

Once the officers were out of sight, the duo placed harnesses on to the railings and dangled from the bridge.

The entire display lasted just a few minutes but caused a great deal of concern to those watching.

Tony Kenmuir, director of Central Taxis, said the “line has to be drawn” when other people’s safety is in jeopardy.

“The Festival is fabulous for the city and very good for the taxi trade and it’s all good clean fun, we love being part of it,” he said.

“But when it gets to the point where someone is actually endangering other people’s lives, I think we have gone too far.”

George IV Bridge has been the scene of several controversial incidents in recent years.

Student Kate Flannery was left temporarily paralysed and suffered a fractured skull after she was hit by a traffic cone which had been thrown on to the Cowgate in 2006.

In a similar case, a Northern Irish teenager was fined £700 last week for dropping a cone from the bridge in June this year.

Mr Kenmuir added: “Imagine the impact of a person landing on another person.

“It’s not only themselves that they are putting at risk, it’s other people’s safety. You have got to draw the line somewhere.”

The performers staged the stunt to promote their afternoon show, which is running in the Underbelly Lafayette tent in the Meadows throughout August.

One onlooker said: “The only people that were annoyed seems to be the traffic below. Everybody else thought it was great.”

A council spokeswoman said: “It was not permitted or authorised.”

A police spokesman said: “Failure to obtain the necessary licence may result in a joint inquiry by the police and council licensing board into the matter.”

The circus was not available for comment, but an Underbelly spokeswoman said: “Cirk La Putyka’s stunt was conceived and done without the Underbelly’s knowledge.

“We would never condone any act which puts the safety of public or performers at risk.”