Poster protest row in Accies stadium saga

Stockbridge campaigner Paul Simpson putting up "Save Our Stockbridge" flyers. Picture: comp
Stockbridge campaigner Paul Simpson putting up "Save Our Stockbridge" flyers. Picture: comp
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CAMPAIGNERS fighting a 5000-spectator stadium development in the grounds of Scotland’s oldest rugby club have been criticised after plastering posters on empty shops which read “Don’t Spoil Stockbridge”.

The comments came after a protester was caught putting up posters on empty shop fronts in Raeburn Place, which urged visiting planning officials not to “spoil” the historic district by backing construction of the stadium by Edinburgh Academicals.

It emerged local resident James Simpson, the protester in question, was challenged by an Accies member over his posters after they were put up yesterday.

Mr Simpson said that the posters were taken down immediately after he was 
challenged, but councillors said there would be “disappointment” at the episode and urged “over-enthusiastic” campaigners to think before taking action that could be breaking the law – and damaging the very area they want to protect.

The encounter between Mr Simpson and Accies staff took place ahead of a visit by planners to the site where club bosses want to build a new stadium, as well as a clubhouse and space for shops, bars and restaurants.

Campaigners said they had planned to put up hundreds of posters to put their point across to council officers.

Mr Simpson, 68, a Stockbridge resident for 38 years, admitted he had put up three of the posters and was then confronted by an Accies member, who warned him that he was flyposting.

“We wanted to put up as many as we could in the surrounding windows before the visit,” he said.

“My task was to do the Raeburn Place shops in the morning and, yes, I put up three posters on empty shops, but I was not of the view that what I was doing was flyposting.

“I was questioned by someone from Accies, who came up to me and said that was what it was. Not being sufficiently aware of the law to know whether putting something on something unoccupied was flyposting, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and I took them down straight away.”

Planning officials defined flyposting as the display of advertising material, such as placards and posters, for which consent has not been obtained.

Local politicians urged those against and in favour of the Accies development to show restraint.

Councillor Iain Whyte, Conservative group member for Inverleith, said: “I think many members of the public will see the ironic side of this.

“But I think there will be disappointment that campaigners who are trying to promote the best interests of Stockbridge have felt the need to do something which could achieve the opposite.

“People on both sides of this are campaigning very hard and it’s a shame if someone has been over-enthusiastic.”