IT is one of Edinburgh’s best-known beauty spots and a relative oasis of calm when the world’s biggest arts festival rolls into town.
But moves to set up a huge Fringe campsite on the Meadows have taken a major step forward after the idea was named one of the winners of a contest to improve the capital’s festivals.
City council chief executive Sue Bruce was on the panel of judges which backed the idea of the public park becoming home to a T in the Park-style campsite with toilets, cooking facilities and security guards.
But while the council has said it is supportive of the idea in principle, it has been given a cool reception by people living alongside the Meadows.
The Edinburgh Festivals Ideas Challenge, which generated more than 300 ideas, was billed as the first initiative to get festival-goers to help make the events “an even more amazing experience”.
The five winners will now be taken forward by organisers of the festivals for possible development as pilot projects which “make the most impact”.
Ms Bruce said: “The Edinburgh Festivals Ideas Challenge was a great idea which has generated even more great ideas. It will be rewarding for the people who thought of these ideas to see some of them put into practice.”
Among the other ideas put forward were the creation of a “marketplace” for people selling unwanted tickets, a backstage-style area for the public to meet up with festival performers, and even pick-up and drop-off bins for umbrellas. The campsite idea was one of the 25 most popular to emerge from an online poll and was selected as one of the best five by the expert panel, which also included Faith Liddell, chief executive of umbrella body Festivals Edinburgh, which instigated the contest.
Other winning ideas included the creation of “festival flasks” to reduce the amount of waste produced at bars, a new database of listings for children’s shows searchable by age, listing shows which are not in “accessible” venues and allowing audiences to use “knowledge tabs” to digitally drop reviews of shows at venues. But local resident Chris Wigglesworth, chair of a Meadows working group set up by the council, said: “I’m appalled that the chief executive of the council has backed this idea.
“It would be crazy to even consider having a campsite in the Meadows and there will be a lot of hostility to this.”
Another community campaigner, Peng Lee Yap, added: “The big problem with the Meadows is the complete lack of any suitable facilities, such as toilets or running water.”
Susan Russell, marketing manager at Festivals Edinburgh, said: “Some of the winning ideas may be taken forward into real projects. This would be at the agreement of the festivals and key partners, and these discussions will take place over the coming months.”
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said: “The Meadows is well used throughout the summer months with people picnicking and playing sports, so I don’t think a campsite would be feasible there. But a campsite outside of the city centre, where you could bus people in and out from, and has proper facilities, is definitely worth looking at.”