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Leave cancelled as city gears up...
Leave cancelled as city gears up

Edinburgh City Council has cancelled leave for senior managers as it braces itself for an influx of anti-poverty protestors when the G8 summit takes place at Gleneagles.

Up to a million people could descend on the city after Bob Geldof called on anti-poverty campaigners to attend a mass rally on 6 July, the first day of the G8 summit.

The rally will follow a Make Poverty History march in the city earlier in the same week.

Radical groups are organising protests to coincide with the economic summit of the eight wealthiest nations.

Council chief executive Tom Aitchison said Mr Geldof's rallying cry had added to what was already a high-pressure situation for the council.

'My heart picked up a few beats when I heard,' he said. 'At the end of a challenging four or five days, we've got another major event to be safely managed.'

Leave has been cancelled for all senior managers in the week of the summit.

Every department would be under extra pressure, with public safety of paramount concern. The council is grappling with the risk of an invasion of unaccompanied schoolchildren, as well as the need to look after youngsters whose parents are taken into custody during the event.

'They will be taken into care in one of our homes until they can be reunited with a responsible adult,' said Mr Aitchison.

Edinburgh has taken a political decision to welcome protestors despite the logistical complications. 'There will be banners in the street identifying the city with the Make Poverty History people,' he said. 'We hope the protestors see the city as empathetic, rather than antipathetic, towards them.'

But the cost of managing the event - estimated at£1.5m - must not fall on Edinburgh council taxpayers, he said.

'We've had an assurance from the first minister that resources will be forthcoming but we have to account for what we spend,' he said.

The website of Dissent, a network of radical groups, describes plans for a series of 'blockades to disrupt the functioning of the summit'.

Edinburgh's poverty role

>> 5,000 additional police officers drafted in from England and Wales

>> 20,000 notices sent to homes and commercial properties affected by road closures

>> All roadwork in the centre of the city to be suspended and all scaffolding removed to minimise the risk of violent disturbance

>> Mobile toilets shipped in from France and Belgium, as there are insufficient units in the UK to meet demand.

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