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Angus Council leader calls for squabbling to stop over pro-independence Arbroath 2020 march

Angus Council leader David Fairweather.
Angus Council leader David Fairweather.

Angus Council’s leader has called for an end to the “squabbling” over a pro-independence march in Arbroath.

David Fairweather said the proposed rally on April 4 will not take the shine off the Arbroath 2020 celebrations.

The Scottish Independence Movement and All Under One Banner have both given notice to Angus Council they intend to march on the Saturday, which will clash with the start of locally-organised events to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.

Arbroath Abbey, where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320.

Tens of thousands of members of the Yes movement are expected to gather in Arbroath on for the procession, which has been organised “to regain Scotland’s independence”.

The mass rally has prompted a war of words between nationalist political rivals and Mr Fairweather has called for an end to the bickering.

“It’s absolutely shocking that they are trying to politicise this.

“As a council we want to give the Arbroath 2020 committee as much support as we can but others want to squabble instead.

Scottish independence supporters march through Edinburgh during an All Under One Banner march. on Saturday, October 5.

“I don’t think the proposed march will take the shine off the local events but it’s the politicians that we could have an issue with.

“All the hard work that this small group has done could be undermined by people wanting to stick their nose in and politicise it.

“This pro-independence march has got nothing to do with the Arbroath 2020 committee.

“2020 is a celebration not only for Arbroath, but the whole of Scotland and the world will be watching it.

“Let’s enjoy what will be a truly historic event that celebrates a truly remarkable time. They are separate events so let’s enjoy it and stop squabbling.”

A copy of the declaration of Arbroath at Arbroath Abbey.

Arbroath 2020 was first mooted in November 2016.

Next year’s celebrations begin with a festival weekend and a horse-led procession of 500 people from Arbroath Abbey to Arbroath Harbour will take place the day after the pro-indepence rally.

Scottish independence supporters march through Edinburgh during an All Under One Banner march.

“Arbroath 2020 will include a number of events and Angus Council want to ensure there are no hiccups,” said Mr Fairweather.

“We have held a meeting with the committee and we want to make sure things go as smoothly as they can in April.

“That means making sure they don’t fall foul of licensing laws, making sure all the paperwork is in place, and also looking at how we can help them with things like funding or grants, because this event is going to cost a lot of money.”

Local authorities are obliged to take into account a number of considerations when making a decision about holding a procession and can impose conditions.

Council officers and elected members are obliged to examine the likely effect of holding the procession in relation to public safety, public order, damage to property and disruption of the life of the community.

The civic licensing committee is strictly non-political in its decision making.

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