Crowds support march but some traders claim they lost out

Crowds flocked to support the bands as they marched through the town
Crowds flocked to support the bands as they marched through the town
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Organisers hailed the first march through Falkirk by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland in 16 years on Saturday as a huge success.

Police Scotland reported only two arrests and – apart from some traffic and litter issues – Falkirk Council appear to have had no concerns with the parade that attracted thousands to the town.

The colourful event did, however, have a mixed impact on retailers in and around the town centre.

While small convenience stores along the route were delighted with the extra demand for their sweets and cold drinks, and the pubs enjoyed bumper numbers of punters, some established businesses in and around the town centre reported a noticeable drop-in customers, while the Howgate Centre in the High Street had a Saturday as bad as traders had feared.

Marketing manager Margaret Foy admitted: “As expected, it completely killed us.

“There were thousands of people on the High Street, but they were here to enjoy the parade not the shopping. Between noon and 3pm footfall was down 15 per cent on the previous Saturday and 20 per cent compared with the same Saturday last year.

“All the stores here have reported business was markedly down due to a combination of the bus service being reduced and roads being closed as a result of the march.

“People stayed away, just as we thought they would. Saturdays are peak days for retailers, but last Saturday was not good news for them.”

At the nearby Central Retail Park the number of parking spaces available during the day underlined the fact many shoppers opted to stay at home on traditionally the busiest day of the week.

Over 70 Orange Lodges from Falkirk and the East of Scotland accompanied by 50 bands took part in the march.

They gathered in Callendar Park before parading along a route that included East Bridge Street, High Street, Kirk Wynd, Vicar Street, Grahams Road, Dalderse Avenue, Thornhill Road, Ladysmill, Kerse Lane and Bellsmeadow.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police in Forth Valley can confirm that the Orange Order event in Falkirk passed off without any major incident. There were two arrests, one for sectarian breach of the peace and the other for a domestic offence. There was some disruption to traffic but very little reported anti-social behaviour.”

A Falkirk Council spokesman confirmed: “The town centre experienced heavy traffic congestion and this resulted in some disruption for visitors and residents alike throughout the day. Falkirk Council was involved to assist in a multi agency planning group to help minimise this disruption alongwith Police Scotland and other organisations.

“As with any large gathering, there were some litter problems, however, these were dealt with and no additional resources were required.”

A spokesman for The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said: “The last time the march involving Falkirk and East of Scotland lodges was in Falkirk was 16 years ago and we are delighted with the way it went and the support it attracted.

“Callendar Park was a wonderful setting to start the march from and the reception from the crowds along the route was tremendous and very much appreciated by our members.”