Page last updated at 00:16 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 01:16 UK

Cash cow row over Fringe posters

By Angie Brown
Edinburgh reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Legal poster heras fencing at The Pleasance
Temporary poster sites include circular drums, triangular fencing, lamppost columns and hoardings on railings

A venue producer has hit out at the "appalling" new system of paying to put up posters promoting shows in Edinburgh during the Fringe.

Tomek Borkowy, director of Universal Arts, said he was "very angry" at Edinburgh City Council's decision to charge acts to advertise their shows.

Although the local authority does not receive money, it has allowed an outside company to let official sites.

City Centre Posters charges between £12.50 and £60 per poster.

Edinburgh City Council officials are hailing the new venture as a success and said it was helping to bring levels of flyposting under control and wiping out a £75,000 clean-up bill for taxpayers.

It has agreed to install a host of temporary sites - including circular drums, triangular fencing, lamppost columns and hoardings on railings in Chambers Street, The Grassmarket, The Pleasance, Teviot Row and Princes Street.

Tomek Borkowy
It has a cow that it is milking and it is milking it to death
Tomek Borkowy
Universal Arts director

Three teams of two staff are monitoring the city and scrapping off posters in illegal areas.

Venues are charged £60 per large poster (152cmx102cm), £50 per medium poster (83cmx118cm) and £12.50 per small poster (76cmx51cm) for the duration of the festival, assuming they have a minimum spend of £200.

Edinburgh City Council has asked City Centre Posters to pay £10,000 to a yet-to-be-decided city charity following the contract.

Mr Borkowy told BBC Scotland news website the cost was too great for smaller productions to afford.

He said: "It is appalling that the city council is giving a commercial company the possibility to make money from the Fringe.

"It has a cow that it is milking and it is milking it to death.

"Poor companies that are already paying a lot now have another cost if they want to advertise when it should be provided as a subsidy and we would find a way of regulating it. It means only the big companies can afford to put posters up in the city.

"It is also appalling that the council is asking for this charitable donation, why does it not give it to the Fringe Society?"

Legal poster lamppost
Space on triangle fencing round lampposts is being sold

There is space for 500 large posters, 600 medium posters and 1,000 small posters under the new scheme.

Michael Chesters, City Centre Posters general manager, said the new test scheme had proved a success with 95% of the legal poster spaces already having been bought up.

He said: "I think it has been a success and I envisage we will be doing the same scheme next year.

"What we are doing is all about providing a solution to a problem and that can't be free.

"Aesthetically the city looks much better now, it is much better managed and we clean up the posters at the end of the festival so there is less impact on the city."

Robert Aldridge, Edinburgh City Council environment leader, said: "This project is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Not only will it enable shows to have prime advertising space in the city centre, it will keep the city looking clean and colourful during the festival season.

"This will also allow our environmental wardens to continue with the many other important aspects of their jobs and not spend time removing illegally-sited posters and following up associated complaints."



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