ORGANISERS of protests in Edinburgh are set to be forced to give a month's notice to city officials, putting spontaneous events such as this year's major demonstration against the war in Gaza under threat.
Council officials have been turning a blind eye to new laws which came into force in 2007 asking rally organisers to give 28 instead of seven days' notice for their events.
But now city leaders have indicated that they are going to start enforcing the rules.
Between April 2007 and March last year a total of 16 events went ahead without organisers having given the full 28 days' notice.
City leaders today said they, along with the police, had adopted a "softly, softly" approach to the new legislation but added this was now likely to change.
Opposition politicians and rally organisers today hit out at the 28-day rule, warning that many protest groups will simply ignore it.
The former socialist MSP and organiser of the city's annual May Day rally, Colin Fox, said: "The problem I have with the 28-day rule is that it only suits the bureaucrats who invented it.
"A lot of these marches and rallies are organised in response to local or world events, something which you can't give a month's notice for. You can't just do these things at the drop of a hat but I think what will happen is that people will simply ignore the 28-day rule.
"It is just unacceptable to say that the people who wanted to protest about the bombing in Gaza in January would have to wait a month to do this."
There are typically around 120 marches or rallies held in the Capital each year, ranging from Orange Walks to trade union marches.
Leith councillor Gordon Munro added: "The very nature of some rallies and marches is that they are spontaneous, reacting to wider events.
One of the biggest rallies through Edinburgh was in 2005 when an estimated 250,000 people took to the streets to try to force G8 leaders to tackle world poverty, while the last major rally in the city was in January for the 4000-strong protest against the conflict in Gaza.
The march finished at the US consulate on Regent Terrace where shoes and paint bombs were thrown at diplomatic offices.
"The local authority and the police are due to review this approach and the local procedure in general. It is likely that we will move towards enforcing the 28-day notice period in all but urgent cases
1 day ago