City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Occupy Edinburgh Moving Tents In St Andrew Square

By edg - Posted on 17 November 2011

Participants in the Occupy Edinburgh encampment in St Andrew Square have agreed to move to a new location to the edge of the park in time for Edinburgh's Christmas and Hogmanay festivities.

Occupy Edinburgh said in a release that they were visited last night by Chief executive of Essential Edinburgh (the Central Edinburgh Business Improvement District), "to discuss the arrangement of our camp and how it could be re-calibrated in order to accommodate the winter festivities planned to take place within the square."

The statement continued: "Occupy Edinburgh consented to Mr Neil’s proposal to move our tents and camping equipment to the edges of the square to free the central area to allow the inclusion of a stage, lights and decorations and an area for the public to view the festivities."

Essential Edinburgh has also offered the camp additional storage space.

Occupy Edinburgh says that the move to the edge of the park, the first since setting up four and a half weeks ago, will be temporary: "Neil promised that our occupation could re-convene in the center of the square when the winter festivities end on January 4th 2012," read the statement.

The famous New Town Square is in the heart of the Edinburgh's financial district, situated directly opposite the Royal Bank of Scotland head office in Dundas House. The Royal Bank, formerly a stockmarket darling, was bailed out by British taxpayers in 2008, although is now "awash in liquidity". The state-owned bank has also been widely criticised for its leading role in financing destructive Canadian tar sands projects.

As well the symbolism of the location, the small encampment with its tents and banners, has become an important forum for campaigns, discussions, workshops, and other events. These included a free concert on the lawn of the Square by longtime activist singer-songwriter Billy Bragg on Monday (see video above).

Organisers are nevertheless aware that the camp's continuing presence "is not guaranteed" and say they continue to maintain "a communicative and productive relationship with our neighbours in St. Andrew Square, with Essential Edinburgh and with Lothian and Borders Police."

As one participant says at the beginning of this Occupy Edinburgh General Assembly last month, it's a privately owned Square: "If we get out of hand, we'll get kicked off of here. It's quite simple."

Edinburgh Council Approval

Following the example set by Occupations in other cities, Maggie Chapman of the Green Group on the Edinburgh City Council has proposed a motion, asking that the council support Occupy Edinburgh.

The motion will be considered at a full council meeting on the 24th of November.

Here is the motion:

24th November 2011
Support for Occupy Edinburgh motion


Notes that the encampment of citizens in St. Andrew Square, ‘Occupy Edinburgh’, represents one part of a growing, global movement for real democracy, authentic global equality and justice, and a sustainable economic and ecological future;

Notes that this occupation, together with the more than 1000 others worldwide, is not simply a protest, but an effort to bring to life the inclusive, equitable and sustainable systems desired;

Notes that this movement, and its participants in Edinburgh, have significant support in the wider population;

Believes that given the mistakes made by financial traders, the profits of these companies and their shareholders should be tapped before cuts are made to public sector spending. It is unacceptable that bailouts are being paid for at the expense of public services, and this must never be allowed to happen again;

Believes that an economy functional only on top of endlessly growing consumption is causing significant environmental damage and must ultimately deplete our planet’s resources and cause irreversible environmental damage. This must end now;

Believes that these demands are not only fair, but are in fact the only reasonable response in the face of the crisis faced by our current economic system, our communities and our planet;

Believes that, by setting a example, Edinburgh can help our national governments, and the wider world, to finally accept the real and fundamental changes that are so desperately needed to salvage a sustainable future;

Thus supports the values of Occupy Edinburgh;

Supports the participants of the St. Andrew Square occupation in demanding that these values be recognised and acted upon by all governmental bodies in the UK, and worldwide;

Commits to return our democracy to the people, and to work together immediately to create a new, sustainable and equitable Scotland.

Proposed Maggie Chapman