Papal visit leaves city to pick up £250k bill

THE Pope's visit has left the city council with a bill of £250,000, it emerged today.

The September date was the first ever state visit by a pontiff to the UK and the city council spent a total of 292,727 on ensuring it went smoothly.

Its contribution included the installation of road barriers and signage, street cleaning along the route and first aiders.

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The Scottish Government is contributing 41,000 towards the cost of the St Ninian's Day Parade, which travelled down Princes Street ahead of Pope Benedict XVI, but the council has been left to pick up the tab for the remaining 251,727.

The Capital was the first stop on Pope Benedict XVI's four-day UK tour, beginning with a meeting with the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. He then travelled along Princes Street to the home of Cardinal Keith O'Brien in Morningside, before leaving for Glasgow.

The council spent 216,141 on barriers, cones, stewarding and CCTV, and 45,517 on litter collection, litter bin sealing, extra street cleaning along the procession route and graffiti removal.

In addition, 13,773 was spent on papal banners for Princes Street and Waterloo Place, and 6426 on providing first aiders, doctors, nurses and first aid posts.

The costs are detailed in a report to the city council's policy and strategy committee published today.

Despite the cost, the report says the visit was "a great success", with around 125,000 people lining the route and millions watching on TV.

City leader Jenny Dawe said the cost of the operation would be met from within existing council budgets.

She said: "I think the main message from the Pope's visit is that it certainly showed the city in a good light.

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"The Pope got in and out in complete safety. It was very successful and everything went as planned, there was good worldwide coverage of it and there were no incidents.

"It did come at a cost, though, and most of that had to come from council resources.

"It has been contained within departmental budgets but, even so, it was a quarter of a million pounds, which is a lot."

Academics at Queen Margaret University's International Centre for the Study of Planned Events have also hailed the visit as a success.

Their study, released last month, found that a third of those questioned said the event exceeded their expectations and a number said it had been well organised and busier, better natured and more of a spectacle than they originally imagined.


The Pope's visit to Britain has so far cost Whitehall departments 10 million, according to official figures.

The Foreign Office said it hoped to publish the full costs by the New Year.

A ministerial statement showed five departments each transferred 1.85m to the Foreign Office for the visit - a total of 9.25m.

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The National Secular Society condemned the bill and warned that the "real eye opener" would be policing and security costs.

President Terry Sanderson said: "The spreading around of costs over government departments seems an extraordinary way to justify it.

"The Department for the Environment was roped in to pay apparently because the Pope feels strongly about environmentalism.

"In the end, it all comes out of the taxpayer's pocket."