A former lord provost of Edinburgh has launched a scathing attack on city centre residents opposed to more live music events in the city.

Eric Milligan, who is stepping down from the city council after more than 40 years in public office, said people wanted to "put a do not disturb sign" outside their homes.

And Mr Milligan, current chairman of Edinburgh's licensing board, has blasted opponents of a bid to ease restrictions on music venues.

He accused critics of the plan of an "overreaction" by predicting "doom and gloom" if live music licensing rules in the city are changed to fall in line with the rest of Scotland.

The current rules in Edinburgh state that amplified music must be "inaudible" in neighbouring properties.

Under the change of rules, amplified music would only be prevented if it was causing an "audible nuisance".

Campaigners for the new policy say Edinburgh has some of the most restrictive licensing rules in the world.

Of the 526 responses to an official consultation, just 25 were opposed to the proposal, which is set to be introduced as a two-year pilot.

Support has come from the likes of hip hop trio Young Fathers who come from Edinburgh.

But community groups representing the Grassmarket, Southside, New Town, Stockbridge, Tollcross and Morningside areas of the city are fighting the change.

Members of the licensing board voted to delay a decision until later this year to allow a full hearing on the issue in a bid to build "consensus".

But Cllr Milligan said this could lead to nothing being done.

He said: "Much as I love this city, there are always a significant number of people who are happy to live here but want to put a sign up saying 'please do not disturb me'.

"The nature of a vibrant city is that things are going to change and evolve. Everybody that comes along to object to something the council does says 'This is not an example of nimbyism - but I'm objecting to this in my own back yard'. That's what happens, I'm afraid.

"There are a lot of people in Edinburgh who are conservative with a small 'c'. They don't want change and are frightened about tomorrow because it is going to bring further doom and gloom and spoil our city.

"Edinburgh has grown and developed and is a far more exciting, more complete city as a consequence of changes made in recent years. This has become a big issue because some people have overreacted."

Almost half of Edinburgh's musicians say they have suffered problems due to council noise policies.

And live music events are worth around £40 million to the city's economy.

The city's director of culture, Lynne Halfpenny, also supports the change, and thinks it would allow music venues and residential neighbours "room to co-exist".

Cllr Milligan added: "The change being sought is not a great one. There would be a very slight relaxation, but rigorous control would remain over any sound breaking out from licensed premises.

"Taken to its extreme, the current policy can be interpreted as being if one person objects then somehow or other there is an issue that has to be addressed. Every licensed premises almost has to show that it is like a sealed unit at the moment.

"I understand it is inhibiting a number of people in the artistic world who believe we're damaging the interests of live music by having such a restrictive policy.

"I just don't want to drag things on and on. In my experience, the longer you do that, you eventually wear yourself out and do nothing."

Nick Stewart, manager of Sneaky Pete's in the Cowgate, has been involved in a "Music is Audible" taskforce instigated by the city council to try to resolve long-standing complaints about the noise restrictions.

He said: "I'm disappointed that the members of the licensing board didn't show the courage of their convictions and debate this issue themselves.

"I am certain they've had ample reports and presentations from which to make an informed decision - after all, this process began around two years ago.

"I agree with Cllr Milligan that this is quite a minor change. It's the result of nearly two years of work to find a wording that would work best for everyone, based in the law and founded on a mountain of research. We won't compromise the work that we've done so far."

But Steve Gregory, secretary of Morningside Community Council, which has objected to the plans, said: "We feel [the changes] would replace a straightforward and objective assessment of what enforcement action needs to be taken with a pretty subjective one.

"It's not in the interest of residents, it's just in the interest of music operators and the music industry."

And responding to Cllr Milligan's comments, he said: "I think a lot of people in Edinburgh living near music venues would like a do not disturb sign outside their doors.

"There's a feeling that festivals and so forth are done to us and not for us.

"The music industry and festival city has done perfectly well for years with this condition and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't continue to thrive with this condition still in place.

"If venue operators want to make a noise then they should install sound proofing."