St Andrews’ annual Beating of the Retreat celebration of Scotland’s patron saint was at risk this week after it was revealed that policing costs for the event could be as much as £2000.
Announcing plans for the event in South Street, which precedes St Andrews Community Council’s November civic reception, council chairman Howard Greenwell said he had been told that a new policy by Police Scotland could lead to the four-figure charge being imposed.
But Police Scotland quickly responded saying that Mr Greenwell was “wrong”, suggesting: “The chairman of the council would benefit from looking at our Charging for Events question and answer document because he is clearly confused.” Police spokesman Ian Fleming went on to say: “It is absolutely incorrect to assert that Police Scotland wishes to charge £2000 to police this event.”
Mr Greenwell had told his community council colleagues at their meeting on Monday: “We don’t know what the costs will be to close South Street for half an hour for the Beating of the Retreat but the threat of anything up to £2000 is hanging over us. It is part of the new rules and regulations that Police Scotland have brought in.”
And he suggested moving the event Church Street to minimise costs, but community councillors were not in favour.
“We have had it on South Street for ever and a day,” commented Kyffin Roberts, “we are not going to put the crowds on Church Street - it’s nonsense.”
Penny Uprichard added: “Although Church Street may be a smaller street it is an essential part of the circulation of traffic and its closure would cause just as many problems.”
Mr Greenwell was pursuing the issue with Police Scotland and Fife Council this week, but inquiries by the Citizen elicited a quick response with Mr Fleming responding: “It’s not true.”
He explained: “Police Scotland is required by the Scottish Police Authority to calculate the full cost recovery of any event which has police attendance. There is a wide range of abatements which can be applied, particularly for events which are community-based and are non-profit making. The vast majority of local events would therefore not be charged for.”
Mr Fleming added: “Police Scotland also works closely with event organisers to seek ways of reducing charges.”