Hogmanay concert plans up in the air

No event was held at the Market Square on Hogmanay last year.
No event was held at the Market Square on Hogmanay last year.

Plans for a ticketed Hogmanay concert at Stonehaven’s Market Square this year are up in the air after councillors decided to defer a decision on whether the event should go ahead.

A commercial organisation have said that they want to hold an event similar to that organised in recent years by a community group in the town, which saw big name acts such as Simple Minds, the Human League and Deacon Blue perform in the town.

Last year, no event was held and there are no plans for the group to hold another one this year.

Speaking at the Kincardine and Mearns area committee at Viewmount on Tuesday, Area Manager Willie Munro told councillors that the commercial organisation intend to hold a similar event to Open Air in the Square, with a “similar genre” of band to the ones who have performed in previous years.

He said: “It would be a very similar event, but they have said they would rearrange the bar area. There would be no plans for a funfair, and if this goes ahead there would be no funfair at the Leisure Centre this year.

“The event would be ticket only, the area would be fenced off and it would be run commercially.”

However, it is anticipated that the Market Square car park will have to be closed off to the public for five to seven days, and Councillor Wendy Agnew expressed concern for how this would affect local businesses.

She said: “If the square is closed for five days it will hurt businesses in the town. It’s quite a fine line. I would like to hear what the Stonehaven Business Association think”.

Councillor George Carr said: “Economically it will be good for Stonehaven. An event in the Square can work quite well alongside the Fireballs. It is good for Stonehaven and the town punches above its weight for events on that night of the year”.

Councillor Peter Bellarby said: “This type of event brings in lots of visitors, and I have no hesitation in agreeing to it. The organisers of the previous events had charitable intentions, but this is purely a commercial organisation trying to make money.”

Councillors Alison Evison and Raymond Christie said that it was important that Aberdeenshire Council did not incur any costs for road closures, or loss of income by having the car park closed, adding that the organisation running the event should cover the costs.

Cllr Christie said: “Most people in Stonehaven thinnk it is a good idea. I think the Council should recoup every penny from a commercial organisation. Economically it is a good idea for this to happen.”

Councillor Graeme Clark said: “I don’t think I have enough information to make this decision. I would like to hear from the Stonehaven Business Association, the tourism group, the community council and residents first. I would like to defer a decision until the next meeting.”

Area Manager Willie Munro cautioned councillors that the organisers are working to a timescale, so the decision should be made at the next committee meeting in three weeks time.