Tuesday 22 October 2019

What are our City's Parks for?

To most of us, the answers to this question are many but clear- our city's green spaces are places where people can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and where nature itself can have a chance to thrive.

However Edinburgh City Council seems not to grasp these basic ideas.

I've blogged about the commercial takeover of West Princes Street Gardens previously in March 2018, December 2018 and August 2019. This part of the gardens is regularly closed to the public so that private ticketed events can be held.

Meanwhile in East Princes Street Gardens there was a furore recently when over 50 mature trees were destroyed to make way for a gentler slope to allow disabled access to the National Galleries of Scotland. Now disabled access is obviously very important but it seems very unlikely that all those trees needed to be killed to make a disabled access possible. And the trees that have been planted now the access is completed are feeble things and seem to be dying.

This is how East Princes Street looks today

Now I may be wrong, but one first impression is, er what's happened to the much heralded disabled access? It seems to go down into the gardens from Princes Street, but it looks as though the scaffolding has been built over the path that tkaes wheelchairs to the galleries. But I may be missing something.

What is the scaffolding for anyway, you may ask? It's so that the council can extend Edinburgh's Xmas Market! In this day and age of increasing environmental awareness, you would think that the council in charge of a capital city would know better than to build a tacky temporary structure over it's best known green space. But this is Edinburgh we're talking about. I haven't visited Edinburgh Xmas Market for a couple of years since they made the bizarre decision to no longer allow the stalls to sell hot drinks in reusable mugs. And for years before that the only reason I ever visited was to get a delicious Ameretto Hot Chocolate in a good sturdy German mug that I then returned to the stall to be washed and reused. To my eyes all the stalls have sold the same selection of stuff every year since the beginning of Christmas markets. It seems incredibly unlikely that the extended market is going to be offering anything other than more of the same, and even if it was going to be offering a wonderful array of artisanal Scottish products it wouldn't be worth damaging the gardens in this way.

If you live or work in Edinburgh, please consider:

sharing your thoughts and images of this 'preparation for Xmas' on social media
contacting your local councillors directly, not just on social media, phone them, email them, write them an old fashioned letter, attend their surgeries in their office (You can find the contact details of your local councillors here);
contacting Edinburgh's Xmas;
contacting National Galleries of Scotland (who own part of this area).

I have already had one reply from onwe of my councillors who says:

[Edinburgh Council are] embarking on a full consultation on what we should be doing for the winter festivals in future years. The present contract comes to an end in two years and it seems to me that this is the time to ask Edinburgh residents if what is happening just now is what they want. Your views are clear I will make sure that they are passed on but I would urge you also to keep an eye out for the consultation.


RG said...

probably some larger amounts of money involved I would think ... at least that is how it works here!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Rabbits Guy- yes money indeed talks....

eileeninmd said...


It is a shame they cut the trees. Would it is easier to make a path through the trees with the disabled. I guess there is pros and cons to having the Xmas Market. Wishing you a happy day!

Sandy said...

I agree with you about the trees. A meandering path through them would have been an option, and also taken care of the grade.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Eileen, the Christmas market wouldn't be a problem if they held it on a paved square or a cul-de-sac road as other markets in Edinburgh are.

Eileen and Sandra - you're probably both right about alternative ways of designing a disabled access path.

Bob Bushell said...

It's a crying shame, all those trees, bad news. I am disabled, and I want to see trees.