Edinburgh to form new taskforce to combat festival crowds

Edinburgh Festival Fringe madness on the Royal Mile. Picture: Alex Hewitt
Edinburgh Festival Fringe madness on the Royal Mile. Picture: Alex Hewitt
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A new taskforce is to be set up to tackle growing concerns over the impact of the mass influx of tourists when its festivals are taking place.

Council leaders have acted over claims major events are affecting the quality of life of city centre residents and clogging up parts of the capital.

An all-party group will act as a go-between to ensure the views of people living in the Old and New Towns are given a voice in new tourism and festival strategies.

Late-night noise, waste collection, road closures, and the growing number of properties being let out to festival-goers are all likely to be examined.

The body is also expected to address key “bottlenecks” during the summer and winter festivals, and the impact they have on roads, pavements and public transport.

Senior officers in the transport, environment, culture, public safety and economic development departments are expected to join councillors on the taskforce. It is expected to meet with community groups and representatives of the festivals, the tourism industry and the heritage sector.

Councillors agreed to create the taskforce days after the publication of reports responding to growing anecdotal evidence and commentary on the difficulties of moving around the city and “getting on with normal life.”

The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, the main industry body, has already admitted there is a need to address the “increasing density of visitors” in the Old and New Towns.

Conservative councillor Jo Mowat, who proposed the taskforce, said: “If Edinburgh is to continue to be a great place to visit it is our responsibility to manage things so we can preserve what it so special about it - a living city centre with a secure residential population. We have a really fragile community. I’m really concerned we may kill the goose that lays the golden egg in this city and that people will say: ‘It’s unpleasant and I don’t want to come back.’”

Donald Wilson, the city council’s culture leader, said: “We need to continue working closely with the tourism industry, while also ensuring the voice and needs of our citizens remain heard.”

Julia Amour, director of Festivals Edinburgh, said: “The question of defining a balance of interests between residents, businesses and visitors is of central importance to us and our city partners.

“We look forward to working together to drive the future success of the world’s leading festival city.”