'Weaknesses' in co-ordination of Edinburgh's Christmas market

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Christmas marketImage source, Underbelly
Image caption,
Edinburgh's Christmas market opened on Saturday

There "appears to be weaknesses" in the City of Edinburgh Council's co-ordination of the city's Christmas market, according to a new report.

Last year's market had no planning permission and this year's event will not get permission until after it closes in January.

This is the first year the event in Princes Street Gardens has had a building warrant.

Council officers carried out investigations after concerns were raised about this year's Christmas market.

It opened in Princes Street Gardens on Saturday, after securing a building warrant on Friday.

The market is one of a number of events organised by Underbelly on behalf of the council.

The report found that:

  • In talks to extend Underbelly's contract for the winter market, the firm pushed for a quick decision. They indicated that without that decision it would have "negatively impacted" on the Hogmanay event
  • All local ward members should have been consulted before a decision was taken to extend the market to the south side of the gardens
  • Underbelly was told it would need to secure planning permission on 30 August but the firm said it would not be able to meet the timescales
  • Council officials did not tell Underbelly not to proceed with the market "given the importance of the event in terms of public benefit"
  • A planning enforcement team has asked that four huts and supporting structures are removed to protect trees
  • There was "no question" of public safety being compromised at the market

It added that council chief executive Andrew Kerr is looking at how the governance and management of significant events could be improved.