Underbelly move to reassure public after Edinburgh Christmas Market safety concerns raised

Pictures of piles of plywood supporting scaffolding went viral on social media.

The organisers of Edinburgh’s Christmas Market today moved to reassure the public that the huge scaffold structure it has erected in Princes Street Gardens is safe after concerns were raised on social media.

Photographs showing stacks of wood supporting scaffolding poles are being shared on social media with users claiming “someone is going to end up hurt” and a “serious accident [is] waiting to happen”.

But yesterday, Underbelly, which operates the market, maintained the structure was safe and had been approved by “independent engineers” as well as Edinburgh City Council engineers.

The scaffold has been designed to support more than 100,000 people and 163 market stalls.

The pictures taken underneath the large scaffold structure – including two wooden “sleeper”-style blocks arranged on top of each other supporting a scaffold leg – have gone viral in recent days.

However, Underbelly insisted that the structure was safe and that safety was the company’s “first priority”.

This year’s Christmas Market has courted controversy since the construction of the structure began a fortnight ago.

It emerged Underbelly had not applied for planning permission for the platform, nor had it applied for a building warrant.

A warrant was validated by the council on Monday. A planning application notice – but not a full application – was submitted last week.

A spokesman for Underbelly said: “Fundamentally, safety is always our first priority and the installation in the East Gardens is safe.

“The design has been signed off and certified by independent engineers who are Approved Certifiers of Design of Building Structures and who have issued an SER certificate and it has also been agreed by the Council’s engineers.

“The installation has been designed in accordance with the appropriate codes to more than accommodate the capacities expected by Edinburgh’s Christmas through our busiest periods and in all weather conditions.

“The installation is also subject to a building warrant and will therefore be compliant with the Building (Scotland) Regulations.”

He added the design included the use of “appropriate timber sole plates” as part of the approved plans.

The Evening News asked the council to provide information about whether the structure had been inspected during its construction, but did not receive any details as to whether it had been inspected or when.

A council spokesman said: “This year’s infrastructure is in place to ensure that the Gardens – including the areas benefiting from National Galleries of Scotland’s improvement works – are protected.

“The redesign of the space will also address the concerns last year around accessibility, large crowds and circulation.

“The latest stage is that a Building Warrant application has been submitted and is currently being assessed.

“The application includes a SER certificate from an Approved Certifier of Design of Building Structures, which demonstrates compliance with the regulations.”

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