'Embarrassing' plans for counter Edinburgh Scottish independence march in opposite direction to AUOB event halted

AUOB have organised several large-scale marches in favour of independence. Picture: Neil Hanna
AUOB have organised several large-scale marches in favour of independence. Picture: Neil Hanna
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An independence campaigner has halted "highly embarrassing plans" to hold a march through the Capital at the same time as an official All Under One Banner (AUOB) event - travelling in the opposite direction.

Mandeep Singh, who was suspended as operations director for AUOB and is now "expelled", applied to the city council to hold a demonstration on Saturday, October 5 through the centre of the Capital - at the same time as an already-approved event by AUOB organisers.

In a report to councillors, officials warned that both events were set to be held at the same time with protesters clashing in opposite directions.

They said: "At its meeting on 19 August 2019, the licensing sub-committee considered an application submitted on 13 July 2019 and agreed to make an order in respect of a parade notification submitted by All Under One Banner for a March for Independence on the same date and similar route to this proposed notification, albeit in the opposite direction.

"This application was submitted on 13 August 2019 and is made by an organisation with a similar name to an organisation who intend holding the March for Independence approved on 19 August 2019. The planned events will take place at the same time and location, although the route proposed in this application is the opposite direction to the route approved on 19 August 2019."

The counter-protest, submitted under the name AUOB Scotland Ltd, also requested permission to use Princes Street for part of the march - but officials warned that closing off the route would cost up to £15,000 in a payment to Edinburgh Trams, as well as "sever all main east to west and north to south arterial routes" and make it difficult to "respond to emergency situations".

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All Under One Banner has blasted the plans by their former colleague - although official plans were withdrawn from the city council at the eleventh hour, before being considered by councillors.

An AUOB spokesperson said: "Our organisation, All Under One Banner, has already been given full permission for the annual March for Independence at Edinburgh, first Saturday in October.

"Mandeep Singh is an expelled member of AUOB as of July 2019 and his behaviour since then is a grave affront to independence supporters. In respect of his march application, how can he possibly say he is for the cause when creating such division?"

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They added: "In what is in essence a load of racket from an individual, Singh's highly embarrassing behaviour here is potentially chaotic too on October 5 at street-level.

"Fortunately we have been given robust assurances from Edinburgh City Council and Police Scotland that the official AUOB march and rally will not be hindered in any way, and if Singh does his counter-protest then we know it looks ridiculous and anti-independence in practice."

The counter march originally told council officials they expected around 150,000 people to take part with only 250 volunteer stewards to be deployed.

The official AUOB event will meet at Holyrood Park at 1pm on Saturday, October 5. Demonstrators will then march along Queens Drive, Horse Wynd, Canongate, High Street, Lawnmarket, George IV Bridge, Forrest Road, Middle Meadow Walk finishing at The Meadows.

AUOB Scotland Ltd or Mr Singh could not be contacted for comment on whether the counter-protest will go ahead in any form.