The Scotsman

Two weeks of gardens gigs? That counts as one event, says council

- By BRIAN FERGUSON Arts Correspond­ent

0 A concert by Tom Jones was just one of the events staged at the Summer Sessions series Council chiefs in Edinburgh are set to spark further controvers­y over the use of Princes Street Gardens by ruling that an extended run of pop and rock gigs will count as just one major event in future.

A repeat of a series of Summer Sessions gigs which sparked anger over access restrictio­ns and barriers blocking out views of Edinburgh Castle will not count as a major increase in the use of the gardens, even though they were staged across two weeks.

The council is consulting on plans to hand over the running of the gardens to an arms-length operator, which could stage up to 200 events of various sizes in a new £25 million arena.

Both the council and the Ross Developmen­t Trust, which was created by property developer Norman Springford to pursue the new arena developmen­t, have insisted there are no plans to relax a current limit which allows just four events to be staged in the gardens each year.

But the council now claims a series of concerts like the recent Summer Sessions “festival” – which saw five gigs staged across 13 days – will only be regarded as one event. The equivalent Summer Nights series at Kelvingrov­e Bandstand in Glasgow expanded to 12 gigs this year.

It is thought up to eight concerts could have been staged at the Ross Bandstand this summer under the terms of an agreement between the council and Summer Sessions promoters DF Concerts. One show featuring Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson was moved to the Playhouse after reported poor ticket sales.

Acouncilsp­okeswomans­aid the Summer Sessions were regarded as “one event,” along with the annual festival fireworks finale, the Hogmanay concert and Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park fundraiser. She added: “This has been the first year of these Summer Sessions concerts and they appear to have been a great addition to the Fringe.

“That said, it is important we review and fully understand the operationa­l arrangemen­ts, public feedback and the impact on the gardens to inform any future plans.”

David Ellis, managing director of the trust, said: “We will honour whatever the council policy is on how many large events are allowed to be staged in the gardens. We will work within what the council says is acceptable.

“But the newly-designed building will mean there will be less infrastruc­ture needed for large events and disruption will be reduced.”

Donald Wilson, the council’s culture convener, said: “This council is not proposing to and never would consider ‘selling off’ any part of the gardens. They are an important public asset and always should be.”

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