Legal action is on the horizon after organisers of a pro-Independence march in the city were hit with a £6,000 bill from the council.
Thousands turned up to take part in the first All Under One Banner (AUOB) procession, which took place in the Granite City in August, turning Union Street into a sea of saltires.
Organisers revealed they have since received a bill from the local authority for £6,246.18, which the council claims is for traffic-management costs related to the event, which led to Union Street being temporarily closed.
But AUOB claims it will not pay the costs and has said it intends to challenge the payment in court after another rally is held in Edinburgh this week.
In an online post, organisers said: “Let’s make this clear, we will not be paying Aberdeen City Council for traffic management costs nor will we be crowdfunding for it.
“Instead we look forward to challenging this in court and so once All Under One Banner Edinburgh is successfully completed, we will be seeking legal representation accordingly.”
The group was granted permission from councillors to hold the event prior to it taking place but organisers were told that a temporary traffic regulation order (TTRO) would have to be paid for.
However, speaking at the time, AUOB organiser Neil Mackay insisted the group “wouldn’t be paying a penny” on principle.
Reacting to the bill, Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Greig said it would “not be fair” for public funds to subsidise such a “controversial gathering”.
He added: “Everyone has a right to make a positive contribution to public debate. Organising a demonstration involves administrative and legal costs.
“When a voluntary event is large in scale the organisers should expect to pay for the arrangements. It would not be fair for public funds to subsidise such a controversial gathering.”
Rory Macpherson from pro-independence group Aye Aberdeen, who attended the march but did not organise it, said Glasgow City Council recently confirmed that everyone has the right to hold processions and marches and they need to facilitate them.
He added: “We are also aware some groups that march in Aberdeen have not been asked to contribute to road closures.
“We would not want them to pay, we just want fair treatment.”
Guidance from the council states that some local authorities may waive temporary traffic restriction orders, however, payment of these is a matter for the event organiser and local/road authority.
Paul O’Connor, an independence supporter who attended the march, called on the council to have a more consistent policy.
He said: “It doesn’t make any sense for anybody to be charged or where is your right to march?
“My preference is that everyone should have the right to march down Union Street as long as they aren’t promoting racism, intolerance or discrimination.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “The council incurred costs in relation to traffic management for the All Under One Banner march and organisers have been contacted in relation to the recovery of these costs.”
City council co-leader Douglas Lumsden agreed. He said: “I think the council is right to be recovering the costs that were incurred.
“If that money is not clawed back then we have to cut elsewhere and we cannot allow that to happen.”