‘Backed into corner’ by police over road safety at Links Market

The familiar scene as the Links Market comes to town - and huge crowds are expected on the Esplanade next week.
The familiar scene as the Links Market comes to town - and huge crowds are expected on the Esplanade next week.

Traffic lights to manage huge crowds after row over £6500 police costs

Police Scotland demanded £6500 to oversee road safety measures at the Links Market.

We are being forced into a position of putting these temporary lights up

Councillor Bob Young

Until now, officers had policed the event free of charge as part of normal duties but now it is refusing to do so unless the money is paid by Fife Council.

Police Scotland previously patrolled the market to ensure the safety of those attending the shows - a role now undertaken by a private security firm.

This year officers will be on duty, but won’t be making sure crowds get safely across the busy road.

With a week to go before the market is due to open, Councillor Bob Young, Fife Council’s licensing convener, believes that the force is not carrying out its responsibility of keeping the Kingdom’s young people safe as it should.

He said: “This demand has come completely out of the blue. This should have been brought up a year a go - not with just a week to go until the market opens. There is now no time to sit down properly and discuss a solution to the problem.

“The only course of action left to the Council is to put up temporary traffic lights at the bottom of Nicol Street at a cost of £800.

“We’ve got to this stage of the planning process and the police have us backed into a corner. We’re being forced into a position of putting these temporary lights up,” Mr Young said.

“The market will go ahead but the lights will be there instead of the usual officers in place to stop cars and to help people cross, but I’m not so sure it’s a good thing,” he continued.

George Corona, chairman of the Showmans Guild, said: “The fact that there is a police presence at the market is a good thing.

“It might be different than what we previously had, but there will still be the high level of safety measures as always.”

“A police spokesman said: “We are obliged by statute to provide and charge for police services. Charge levels are assessed on a case by case basis which provides flexibility to distinguish between different types of events.

“Commercial events, where the organiser, company or organisation may intend to make a profit, will be charged full cost recovery when police services are provided.

“We will work with organisers to identify opportunities to minimise costs through consideration of alternative solutions, such as private security firms, without compromising the safe and successful running of an event.”