Hogmanay – Time for New Year’s Resolutions

Hogmanay is a time for New Year’s Resolutions, ours is let’s reclaim our city from hidden networks and businesses carving up Edinburgh for profit.

The Underbelly Hogmanay fiasco goes on and on.

It’s worth remembering that this isn’t new.

The same company met opposition when they offered people “volunteer certificates” to “Hogmanay Ambassadors” in return for working at New Year, back in 2017. Unite and Better than Zero weren’t impressed.   

First of all we have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people registering with Citizen after the latest Underbelly debacle. We can’t respond individually but EVERY single one of you will be contacted in the New Year about our events and how to get involved. There are hundreds and hundreds of you. It feels like a dam has burst and I don’t quite know why, or why now.

Anyway we’ll be announcing our long-planned public meeting about short-term lets in January very soon and then announcing other ways to get involved so you can participate in creating the Manifesto of the City.

Read Libby Brooks in the Guardian here and Kevin McKenna in the Observer here.

We completely support the call from Councillor Mandy Watt who said:

“They (Underbelly) are not fit to have the contract and it should be brought back in-house. The council should consider breaking up the contract into manageable pieces and let local traders and communities run Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay.”

We’ve been saying this for a very long time.

Back in September we published this outlining some possible criteria for how we should or could commission groups to put on events in winter and at New Year. It’s called ‘Reimagining Christmas’.

Now – in the wake of all this – Underbelly seem to be spinning desperately. At first it was all fine, then it was  that this had been the arrangement for years, now it’s all a terrible misunderstanding.
The reality is that this is not about one incident but the whole relationship between the city its residents and this company- and the widespread resentment that they are completely unregulated and given far too much power.
Why should one private company be in charge of entire cultural experiences?
One of the key unanswered questions is what is the process by which this company secures long term contracts with the city to provide events which many people believe are poorly managed and badly conceived?
Secondly how is it possible to be both in receipt of public funding and simultaneously claiming that you won’t reveal your profits for commercial confidentiality?
That stinks.
It’s more “Follow the Cash Cow” than “Follow the Cow”.
Since the latest controversy Citizen has been inundated with hundreds of requests from people to join up.
Citizen is a network of people working to re-imagine the city as a sustainable place for people to live in, not just a space for consumption and profit.
Next year we’ll be hosting a series of events bringing people together who want to reclaim and reimagine the city. Join us by sending your details via our contact form here.
1 comment
  1. Kevin McKenna (Guardian article on the link) is wrong. Underbelly has no connection with Edinburgh’s ‘International Festival’ (the Original Festival, often referred to as the ‘official’ Festival). It doesn’t run the Fringe Festival either, although it does curate its own programme and venues under the Fringe umbrella.. This is just a matter of fact, although not one that negates the thrust of Mike’s article.

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