Castle Street winds sound death knell for market stalls application

A BID to run markets in Edinburgh’s Castle Street has been dropped after warnings of dangerous wind conditions.

Councillors were due to consider an application for an annual market operator’s licence for the site today, but the company behind it, Continental Market, told officials at the last minute it was withdrawing the application.

City centre management company Essential Edinburgh, which used to hold the annual market licence for Castle Street, had objected to the application because of health and safety fears due to strong winds.

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In 2008, five people were taken to hospital after high winds blew over stalls at an Italian market in Castle Street. Four were trapped under six aluminium frame gazebos.

Chief executive Andy Neal said Essential Edinburgh said: “There was an incident several years ago when part of a stall blew off and hit someone. Fortunately, they were not seriously injured.”

Mr Neal said Continental Market had set up a market in Castle Street without permission before Christmas, using “pop-up gazebos”.

He said: “Castle Street has been known as an area of the city centre that is exposed to dangerous wind conditions.

“In our experience, the type of structures being used are not substantial enough for the conditions of Castle Street, even following manufacturers’ guidance of the maximum wind load capacity.

“As a result of two incidents with these types of structures, we have stepped back from the annual market operator’s licence.”

He said Essential Edinburgh always vetted the markets which were staged in Castle Street while it held the licence. But he said: “The best way forward is for no-one to be granted an annual licence, but for temporary ones to be granted so each one is reviewed by the council in detail to make sure they are robust.

“We would very much suggest marquees with market stalls inside rather than open markets because the structure allows very heavy sandbags to keep them down and they don’t have a roof the wind can get under because they are closed round the sides.”

According to papers submitted to the council, Continental Market wanted to have stalls selling arts/crafts, jewellery, soaps, food and refreshments.

Kirsty Wright, 33, who works in an office in Castle Street, said she and her colleagues enjoyed the markets. “We usually have a wander down and there’s quite a nice atmosphere,” she said.

“Obviously if it was known to be dangerous we would prefer it not to be there, but we live in Scotland, we expect unpredictable weather and we deal with it.”

Laura Ogg, of clothes shop Thomas Pink in Castle Street, said: “Last November, when there were really high winds, there was one day they put up the stalls and then took them straight down again. But all of us who work here go and buy things. It doesn’t do anything to upset our trade. We like it.”

Continental Market declined to comment.