Midlothian football fans “vilified” says MP

Wednesday September 6th 2023

bonnyrigg rose owen thompson

Owen Thompson, Midlothian MP, at Bonnyrigg Rose's New Dundas Park.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Football fans across Midlothian have been “vilified” by planned new guidelines for supporters’ buses on matchdays, according to Owen Thompson MP.

The new UK Government guidelines could prevent football fans from enjoying a pre-match pint – unless it’s served with a meal.

Thompson hit out at the UK government’s senior traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt’s consultation on taking passengers to sporting events.

Under the proposals, supporters’ buses would require police permission to stop anywhere within ten miles of the stadium they are travelling to or from.

Thompson said: “Football is alive and kicking in Midlothian. It is part of the tapestry of our local life.

“I am a football fan and even occasionally a player myself. These nonsensical proposals need to be booted into touch.

“Being a football fan is not a crime. We should support our teams and our fans not vilify them.

“These UK Government plans are ill conceived, discriminatory and also ultimately unenforceable.

“It is totally unsurprising that a UK Government loaded with multi-millionaires is so out of touch with the people’s game.”

The UK Government published the consultation document last week ‘Guidelines for taking passengers to sporting events in Scotland’ seeking permission to impose limits on buses carrying fans to games to north of the border.

Proposals include stopping buses from stopping anywhere within 10 miles of grounds without police permission.

Buses would not be allowed to stop at any pub for a beer unless it’s sold with a substantial meal.

Buses would need to arrive at the venue no earlier than two hours before and not later than one hour before the scheduled start of the game unless otherwise directed by police.

Buses could not drop off or pick up any fans at any unauthorised locations without prior permission of the police.

Bus companies would need to tell dedicated football officers 48 hours before the game, the number of supporters expected to travel, the number of vehicles booked and the name and the contact number for the person who made the booking.

Richard Turfitt, Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain, wrote: “Having recently consulted on updating the guidelines for England and Wales, I believe that it would be appropriate to consult on the introduction of the voluntary guidelines for designated football matches held within Scotland.

“In order to help us understand whether the guidelines should be adopted in Scotland, we would like to hear from industry and its representatives and other stakeholders who have an interest in the carriage of football fans by PSVs.

“We invite you to offer your thoughts and contributions on the proposal. These guidelines have historically applied to Scottish operators when conveying passengers to all football matches in England and Wales but have not previously been applied to matches held within Scotland.”

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