ACTIVISTS planning a pro-independence march face a five-figure security bill after council bosses ordered them to pay professional guards.

Organisers say 5,000 people attended the last March for Independence organised by All Under One Banner (AUOB), which travelled from the west end of Glasgow to the city centre in July, though official estimates put the number at 3,000. There was no trouble and no arrests were made.

However, after the event, Glasgow City Council told organisers they would in future have to pay for professional security guards to ensure public safety and moved to refer further applications to the Public Processions Committee, which normally only deals with bids by groups like the Scottish Defence League.

Following months of talks, a date has now been agreed for a march and rally at Glasgow Green this summer. The deal has been struck without having to refer the plan to the committee, following the decision to relegate central figure Neil MacKay, who was found not to be a “fit and proper person” after the last march, from the role of main organiser.

However, conditions mean the volunteer organisers have to “strengthen” stewarding with paid guards and face a bill of tens of thousands of pounds.

The bill for the June 3 event is based on the cost of providing one steward for every 10 people attending, with the group projecting a turnout of as many as 10,000. This estimate comes after the council criticised the group for failing to prepare for higher-than-expected numbers last time around.

Organisers also plan a major promotional push to attract a large turnout, pipe bands, Sikh drummers and African bands, as well as a “substantial contingent” from Catalonia which they hope will attend.

Of the 1,000 security guards needed, 100 will come from Core Security, which has previously worked for Andy Murray and Prince Charles, with the remainder made up of volunteers who will be given training by the company ahead of the day.

The group must now find £30,000 to cover the costs and is working a range of options to raise the amount, including asking volunteer stewards to meet £24-a-head training costs.

However, they say they were left with no option by the city council, calling the security requirement a “major obstacle”. In a statement, AUOB said: “Undeterred, we have set about an ambitious training programme to get 900 volunteer event marshals professionally trained by Core Security, who, on the day of the event, will be led by a 100-strong contingent of Core Security’s finest licensed head stewards.

“Each volunteer will receive four hours of training from Core Security and appropriate accreditation will thereafter be given to each once the training session has been completed.

“It is fair to say that utilising the professionalism of Core Security means that AUOB will incur significant costs.”

A spokesman for the council said the arrangements were in line with stated policies, but did not respond to a request to name any other events required to pay for professional help.

He said: “We have received notification from All Under One Banner of their intention to hold a public procession and a date has now been agreed. The stewarding arrangements for the procession are in line with our standard policy.

“Following a review of previous processions by All Under One Banner, it was agreed with the organisers that stewarding arrangements for the march on June 3 should be strengthened. We appreciate the cooperation of the organisers in achieving an agreement in this matter.

“The council fully recognises the fundamental rights of people to assemble and associate. Our aim is strike a reasonable balance between protecting the rights of those who wish to march and the rights of all Glasgow’s citizens.”