Edinburgh Hogmanay organisers criticised for creating 'unnecessary confusion'

30 December 2019, 20:51

Hogmanay is an annual street party held to celebrate the New Year in Edinburgh
Hogmanay is an annual street party held to celebrate the New Year in Edinburgh. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Organisers of Edinburgh's Hogmanay event have been criticised for creating "unnecessary confusion" over home passes for local residents.

People living in the city centre have faced uncertainty over whether or not they will be able to access their own homes on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Residents who live in the area covered by the annual street party need passes to enter their homes between 6:30pm on 31 December and 4am the following day.

However, guidance issued this year suggested that permission for additional passes for guests attending house parties at the homes of local residents would be at the discretion of organisers.

Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said it was "unacceptable" this year's advice from organisers Underbelly "didn't accurately reflect" the need to prioritise residents' rights and access to their houses.

The street party will attract tens of thousands of people this year and will feature acts include Mark Ronson, Marc Almond and Idlewild.

It covers at least part of more than a dozen streets in the city centre, including the main thoroughfare Princes Street.

People raised their concerns on social media, with posts being uploaded that highlighted the issues with the original guidance.

Fireworks will light up the sky at the stroke of midnight
Fireworks will light up the sky at the stroke of midnight. Picture: PA

The advice indicated that residents in the restricted area would be entitled to six passes to enter their property, while a "reasonable number" of additional passes for guests attending a house party "may be issued in consultation with the event organisers."

Following a backlash, the website now reads: "If you are planning a private function within your home or you are entertaining guests or you have a household larger than six, additional access passes are available."

An event spokesman said the wording was changed to reflect the misunderstandings.

Cllr McVey condemned the "confusing" guidance, tweeting: "Residents rights and access to their homes during any event have to be prioritised and properly planned for.

"It is unacceptable that the guidance for residents didn't accurately reflect this, creating unnecessary confusion. Any changes required to avoid a repeat will be adopted."

Cllr McVey said there would be a "city-wide conversation" in 2020 over the Christmas and Hogmanay events in Edinburgh, "to help shape future events and meet our aspirations and concerns."

He added: "There are understandably strong feelings and we have to listen to all residents and respond to meet the challenge."

An event spokeswoman said: "Edinburgh's Hogmanay is a major event and we appreciate that it has an inevitable impact on local residents, we'd like to thank them for their ongoing understanding.

"We have never and would never prevent residents and their guests from accessing their homes.

"The arena area needs to be secure, which is why for many years there has been a system in place for residents to get access passes which ensure them quick and easy access past security to their homes.

"We are sorry if this has been misunderstood but we want to be very clear that our intention was never to prevent access."

She added: "Tens of thousands of Edinburgh residents come and enjoy the Hogmanay celebrations and we are excited to share a fantastic line-up with them this year.

"The weather for Hogmanay looks set to be the best in years and we're looking forward to welcoming both locals and visitors to the greatest new year party in the world."