NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Pro-independence rally in Aberdeen given go-ahead by council

Saltire Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The march will be in support of Scottish independence

A march and rally by a pro-independence group in Aberdeen city centre this weekend has been approved, amid a wrangle about paying the costs.

The All Under One Banner (AUOB) campaign expects at least 10,000 people to turn out on Saturday afternoon.

Aberdeen City Council gave the go-ahead with conditions.

The organisers said they did not intend paying the estimated associated costs of several thousand pounds, and that they expected Police Scotland to pay.

AUOB organiser Neil Mackay said of the approval: "It was a wise decision."

He explained: "We expect Police Scotland as a national force to do what they do in other regions across Scotland when we put notifications in.

"They actually pay those traffic costs out of that budget which is there, specifically allocated to uphold the democratic rights of Scottish citizens."

'Put hands in pocket'

Licensing committee convenor John Reynolds said of the decision: "I think they have the right to speak and march."

Asked about the costs issue, he told BBC Scotland: "It's disappointing because we're all trying to work together. It puts an onus on the people of Aberdeen, it's money that we don't have in the budget.

"I'm suggesting that Mr Mackay and the police get together and if it can be funded from a Police Scotland budget so be it.

"We can't refuse the approval based on the finances, it's as simple as that."

He added: "Mr Mackay says there's going to be 20,000 people coming along, possibly. Maybe those 20,000 people could put their hands in their pocket and stump up 20p each."

'Does not pay'

He said the council would take legal action over costs if needed.

A police representative at Wednesday afternoon's council meeting did not commit to paying any costs.

Supt James Royan of Police Scotland later said in a statement: "We are continuing to meet with Cosla to resolve legal issues surrounding TTROs (Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders) and further legal opinion is being sought.

"In the interim, we are maintaining local arrangements between divisional commanders and local authorities, however, Police Scotland does not pay for TTROs anywhere in Scotland.

"The requirement to regulate traffic for pre-planned events lies with the event organiser and local authority and we will continue to engage with all involved to support events."

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