Occupy Edinburgh protesters go quietly to make way for Christmas

IT is a world away from the scenes in New York where police arrested 150 as they dismantled the Wall Street protest camp.

In Edinburgh it seems a quiet word and room for compromise with the polite protesters is all that is required.

The Occupy Edinburgh camp in St Andrew Square has agreed to make way for the Capital’s festive celebrations – dismissing the move as a “bit of disruption” to their cause.

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Anti-capitalist protesters will move from the centre to the north edge of the square for six weeks to allow Christmas and New Year celebrations to go ahead.

The camp, which has been in place for nearly a month, came to an agreement with the Essential Edinburgh business group yesterday ahead of work starting next Wednesday.

The group even said the increased traffic would help to get its message out.

Protester Pete Nicholson, 26, speaking on behalf of the group, told the Evening News that they had to come an agreement that suited both sides.

He said: “We’ve agreed with Essential Edinburgh that we’ll move from the centre of the square to the north sides, where we see a lot of foot traffic.

“It’s for a six-week period, so it’s a bit of disruption to what we’re doing, but we feel people should be able to put on Christmas shows if they wish.

“We’re perfectly willing to move out of the centre area for that time, but we made a condition that we can move back to the centre circle once it is over and that’s something Essential Edinburgh have agreed to.”

He added: “To be honest it is a bit of a disruption, but if there’s going to be more people in the square that’s more people for us to reach out to.”

Essential Edinburgh, which is funded by businesses in the main city centre blocks, is hoping to give stores a boost over the festive season by attracting more shoppers into the city centre.

Outdoor cafes, fairground rides and live reindeer will be brought to Princes Street in a bid to boost trade lost from the tram works, while many shops will stay open until 9pm.

Essential Edinburgh chief executive Andy Neal said an agreement has been reached with the protesters in order to allow for the main part of the site to be used for a range of Christmas and New Year activities.

The camp will move ahead of work beginning on erecting the main stage.

Mr Neal said: “They have agreed to move to one side and, if that becomes too full, there is a small overflow area they can use.

“All of this will not interfere with the activity and crowds around the centre of the site.

“It is a good concession by the protesters and I am pleased that they have agreed.”