Festival safety fears following organiser's prosecution

Festival safety fears following organiser's prosecution

13th June 2019

The man behind a music festival planned for the Hop Farm has been fined £4,000 after pleading guilty to placing ‘public safety at risk’ at an earlier event. The One Love festival in Paddock Wood is expected to attract thousands of people.

Dan Wiltshire appeared before Yeovil magistrates on May 29 over offences under the Licensing Act for the One Love Festival held at Gilcombe Farm in Bruton, Somerset in 2018.

The court heard that Mr Wiltshire was granted a premises licence by South Somerset District Council to hold the music festival at the farm.

But during the 2018 festival, several licencing conditions were breached, including a failure to adequately manage traffic safely, failure to implement an effective stewarding plan, failure to provide running water in the medical centre and failing to engage effectively with the Safety Advisory Group.

Magistrates imposed a fine of £2,000 with £2,000 costs and a £75 victim surcharge on Wiltshire, citing that he was highly culpable for the breaches and that he had ‘placed public safety at risk’.

The 2019 One Love Festival is due to be held at the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood from August 30 to September 1, but following the prosecution, it has raised fears over safety at the event.

Nick Love, an event manager at Colebrook Lakes, which hosted the One Love Festival in 2017, said: “The Festival has been at ten different sites in 12 years and has employed nine different Event Managers. Fortunately, the Hop Farm has a good management team in place to ensure rules are followed.”

A spokesman for the Hop Farm confirmed they were aware of the issues surrounding the Somerset event and were ‘keeping an eye on’ the organisation of the event.

Mr Wiltshire denied that festival goers were ever put at risk at any of his events. He told the Times: “Yes, technically we were guilty, but we have been running the festival for the last 12 years and have never had any trouble, and never had an incident with drink, drugs or an arrest.”

Anthony Garnett, Head of Service for Licensing at Tonbridge & Malling Council [TMBC] who have issued a licence for the event, said: “At the Safety and Advisory Group, which is attended by the responsible authorities, including Kent Police, Kent Fire & Rescue and Environmental Health, we will discuss with the organisers, their plans, together with the Hop Farm Management, and make recommendations to amend any plans as necessary.

“Each of the responsible authorities will monitor and enforce this event using their own respective legislative powers.”

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