Jul 4 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
A CITY centre councillor says he’s fearful of the impact a 10,000-strong Orange Order parade this weekend could have on the heart of Stirling.
Castle Ward elected member Jim Thomson has been a vociferous critic of Saturday’s event, which was approved by Stirling Council’s regulatory functions panel in April, following an application by the County Grand Lodge of Central Scotland.
SNP politician Councillor Thomson said yesterday (Tuesday): “There is absolutely no need for our residents to be caught up in the inevitable disruption this march will cause, and the potential for public disorder is well documented.
“I’m led to believe that professionally-trained stewards will be deployed by the organisers, which is fine so far as the march is concerned, but it will be left to the police to deal with the behaviour of the anticipated 10,000 visiting onlookers.
“The business community, in particular, remembers only too well the problems of the last march 14 years ago – the drinking in public, sectarian singing and other serious public order issues.
“I’m aware that a number of businesses intend to close for the day – a day’s trade lost in the middle of summer at a time when many businesses are struggling already.”
Lodge spokesperson Charles Cefferty stressed to the Observer this week: “Anyone who wishes to come along and cause trouble will not be made welcome. Also, we would ask anyone who is intoxicated with alcohol to stay away completely.”
Mr Cefferty continued: “We’ve trained 2000 marshals throughout the whole of Scotland, which helps to allow the police to carry on with their normal duties – maintaining public order and catching criminals – and reduces the cost to the public purse.
“We’re not the sectarian organisation that some people think we are – far from it. Parades like Saturday’s are about celebrating our culture, heritage, and tradition.”
But one city centre resident, who did not wish to be identified, said: “I can honestly say there’s not one person I’ve spoken to who has said that they think this march is a good idea.
“If I had a business I’d be worried because it sounds like the parade will bring the whole city to a standstill.”
Central Scotland Police Superintendent Gordon Dawson urged locals to plan ahead to avoid any anticipated disruption.
Scores of roads along the route – published elsewhere in today’s Observer – will be closed in one direction while the parade passes. Stretches closest to the city centre will closed both ways.
The A91, between the Pirnhall and Greencornhill roundabouts, is also expected to be busy as coaches ferrying marches to and from Stirling will be parked there.
Superintendent Dawson said: “We will be monitoring this event to ensure there is no disorder. We are not anticipating any issues, however, any anti-social behaviour will be dealt with immediately.”
Councillors Johanna Boyd and John Hendry said they would be paying “close attention” to the procession, which passes through a large chunk of the Castle Ward they represent alongside Mr Thomson, after it gets underway at noon from Kings Park.
In a joint statement, the Labour duo said: “A proper balance needs to be struck between protecting people’s right to march peacefully and the impact that this has on communities.”
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