PLANS were announced yesterday for Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations after a safety review following last year's crush.

Attendance at the street party has been cut to 180,000 and admission to the city centre after 8pm will be by free wristband passes.

Asked how close last year's party came to disaster, Councillor Keith Geddes, leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, replied: ''Close enough for the council and other partner organisations to suggest we needed to look at it and introduce improved safety arrangements. The status quo was not an option. ''

An additional #270,000 is being spent on safety measures which now account for two thirds of the event's #1m budget. The number of stewards and police officers on duty will be doubled to 1200.

The area has been expanded to include George Street and the Royal Mile, although large scale alternative satellite venues around the city have not been included.

The street passes will be issued to clubs, pubs, and other businesses in the central area and to hotels and bed and breakfast establishments for tourists. Members of the public can apply to the box office and passes will also be given to ticket holders of paid-for concerts in the city centre.

Originally established to promote off-season tourism, the Hogmanay celebrations have grown considerably. They now cover four days and bring in an estimated #30m to the local economy.

In 1993, the street party attracted a crowd of 50,000. Last year, there were an estimated 500,000 people, although police later revised this down to 300,000. Barriers on the Mound were unable to hold the surge from Princes Street shortly before midnight and some people were crushed when railings collapsed.

''It is now the world's leading New Year festival but clearly it is so popular that it has become a victim of its own success,'' said Mr Geddes.

He added that the next event would be aimed at attracting a family audience and appealing to all ages.

There will be improved public address systems and greater use of the Western General Hospital as an accident and emergency centre. Last year, the Royal Infirmary dealt with 580 patients, an increase of more than 50% on the previous event.

Assistant chief constable Tom Wood said there had been 21 arrests last year, compared to 100 on a normal Edinburgh weekend.

''The crowds on Hogmanay are unfailingly good natured. By this restricted method of entry people who are clearly drunk will not be allowed in, whether they have a pass or not,'' he said.