Edinburgh’s Quaich Project: Attacks on private funding are entirely political – John McLellan

The proposed Quaich Project for Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens has suffered because of the city council’s inept handling of an already contentious plan, writes John McLellan.

The Quaich Project plan to replace the Ross Bandstand has proved contentious
The Quaich Project plan to replace the Ross Bandstand has proved contentious

Much ado about the plans to attract sponsorship to help fund the public-private Quaich Project partnership to transform the Ross Bandstand in West Princes Street gardens, but the brochures tell a different story to the one of “sell-off and sell-out” told by its fiercest critics.

It does indeed describe the concert venue as an “unparalleled marketing potential in both location and profile” and the opportunity to sponsor “new pathways and seating areas to adventure play parks and a 5,000 capacity concert venue”. But sticking a name on a path is a long way from creating an exclusive millionaires’ playground, and the same corporate brochures spell out that “West Princes Street Gardens will always remain in public ownership and will be free to access”.

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Further assurances are given that all sponsorship and membership funds “will be directly invested in improving and enhancing facilities and green space for all those who visit West Princes Street Gardens”. But as usual, the problem is presentational, in that the corporate fund-raising effort was launched without the knowledge of councillors and seems to have caught the Council completely on the hop despite being the owner and key partner.

The opposition to private support for public amenities is entirely political and this latest example of the Council’s inept handling of what was already a contentious project is nothing less than we have come to expect. Something needs to change, if only those at the top had the self-awareness to realise.