THE organiser of the annual march and rally which commemorates the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 has launched a crowdfunding appeal, to help pay for this year’s event after being hit with soaring bills and a ban on full access to the site.

Donald Anderson of the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement has been told by the owners of the battle site, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), that unless he can prove that the event is insured, access will be restricted and no stalls or stages will be allowed on the site.

Anderson, who says he is retiring from organising the event at the age of 82, was told that he needed insurance cover of up to £10m, which would cost between £500 and £1,000. He also needs assistance to pay for portaloos and staging.

He told The National: “I have been in constant touch with NTS over the months and none of this stuff about insurance was mentioned until a few weeks ago.

“They are just trying to put obstacles in our path, but the march will go ahead and we will exercise our rights to freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. We will liaise with the police and abide by their recommendations.

“We have repeatedly said that insurance is not mandatory and we will not be using that facility. We have no funds anyway.

“The annual Bannockburn rally was organised for generations by the SNP and then by us in an inclusive fashion after they gave up the event.

“Our arrangements will be the same as last year and the years before that, all without incident, and see no good reason why NTS wish to inhibit us at this late hour other than political prejudice.

“These new demands were not raised at the joint meetings. Even if we decided to cancel the event, we could not stop many turning up and others taking over.”

The march is set for Saturday June 22, leaving at 1.30 pm prompt from Kings Park, Victoria Road in Stirling, heading to Bannockburn Heritage Centre.

On the crowdfunding page, the target of £1,000 has been set and it states: “We are a small group who rely on raising funds through our stalls at rallies and donations. We host the Bannockburn rally to keep it alive, however we need to pay for a stage, Portaloos, transport to and from the event.”

A spokesman for NTS said: “The National Trust for Scotland is happy to welcome a commemorative, non-political march at Bannockburn marking the anniversary of the battle that shaped Scotland’s future.

“However, the march organisers proposed to hold a wider event and erect temporary structures such as toilets, stalls and staging in the grounds of the battlefield - this is not something covered by statutory rights of access.

“Whereas a march through the site would be covered by the Trust’s insurers in the event of damage, injury or worse, a third party-organised event with temporary structures would not, leaving the Trust and organisers exposed to any claims.

“We gave the organisers two options: to proceed with the march by exercising their legal access rights responsibly; or to proceed with a fuller event with structures erected and insurance cover in place.

“The organisers have indicated that they are not willing to enter into our standard terms of event hire.”