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You are in: Somerset > So Somerset > Is the licencing act destroying Somerset's festivals?

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Is the licencing act destroying Somerset's festivals?

The shake-up in the licensing laws has put extra pressures on Somerset festivals. The Big Green Gathering says it is close to going bust, while Glastonbury Festival say it has helped them.

Organisers of one of the largest eco-festivals in England say the event is in danger of collapsing as the new Licensing Act is putting extra financial pressures on the festival.

The Big Green Gathering, held in Somerset for the last 14 years, is facing an uncertain future.

The new act, which was created to put public safety, child protection and the prevention of crime at the heart of the licensing process, has caused extra financial pressures on festivals.

Organiser Brig Oubridge said the act has added an extra £120k to the Big Green Gathering's costs, leaving them with a loss of £80k. In the last year, security has accounted for a third of their overall costs and their road marshalling bill has risen from £5k to over £23k.

The licensing act: destroying the Big Green Gathering?
Film maker:Dickon Hooper
Date:January 2008

"We’re an event which has no trouble and receives no complaints from local residents. It’s beyond a joke. It’s threatening to pull us into bankruptcy and it’s having a similar effect on the whole festival scene," said Brig.

Brig Oubridge, BGG organiser

Security costs a third of the overall BGG budget

"The licensing act is at fault because you can’t take every form of entertainment and bung it all into one act which is actually designed for pubs and clubs. Different festivals have different management. Things have to be kept in proportion."

The government defended the legislation, arguing that public safety is paramount and that the act can cope with different types of events.

Brig said he would like to see the Home Office work on an amendment with the festival organisers.

Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Festival organiser

Eavis has been organising Glastonbury for 37 years

Good for Glastonbury

Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis said the licensing act did not have an impact on him, as he had already implemented the extra measures such as increased security.

He said the new act made it easier and cheaper for him as it meant he did not have to apply for a license every year.

"You've got to make sure the event is going to appeal to people so that you can charge enough to cover the costs of it and if you can’t provide an occasion or an event that is going to sell a lot of tickets then you’re going to lose money," he said.

New act benefits Glastonbury Festival
Film maker:Dickon Hooper
Date:January 2008
Charles Uzzell, Mendip Council

There are 10 festivals in the Mendip district

And Mendip District Council, which authorised the Gathering and insisted on the extra security, agreed.

Charles Uzzell, director of planning and environment, said: "In 2006, the gathering was subject to high number of fence jumpers going over other people's land, heightening the fear of crime.

"I understand they have financial difficulties but this is not the fault of the act or the bodies involved."

Mendip has a relatively large number of events. Last year the council awarded 10 licenses which was a lot for an area of its size.

Mendip District Council on the licensing act
Film maker:Dickon Hooper
Date:January 2008

Ashton Court festival cancelled

Charles said the Big Green Gathering was the only event that he knows of to be in financial difficulties. However, in Bristol, the Ashton Court festival was cancelled and St Paul's carnival was delayed so that the changes the act required could be implemented.

What do you think? Are festivals an integral part of our cultural life and should more be done to protect them?

Fill in the form below and we'll publish a selection of your comments below.

last updated: 31/12/2007 at 15:47
created: 31/12/2007

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

without festivals in uk people would just go abroad and spend there money there. britain would lose out culturally. Many people outside the UK come over for festival season. Festivals must stay. Bureucratical control must be lessened.

i've been going to the big green gathering for years since my daughter was a baby and it has always been an overwhelmingly safe and secure festival. last year the presence of security, some of whom were unnecessarily 'jobs worths' obstructive and heavy handed.. giving it a bit of a police state edge at times, was wholey inappropriate in the friendly caring community environment that has always been present at the big green gathering. heavy laws, control and security are not needed when a group of people are living in a more caring, conscious, responsible, intelligent and free environment such as the big green gathering. i say security of the likes we saw last year at the BBG is an absolute waste of time and money.

simon hoddinott
yes i think festivals are a part of life and in our heretige and we should protect them for all future generations

Jim R
Mr Eavis has it right i am afraid.It is the same problem with theatres etc,ie bums on seats.If it does not pay it folds,QED.

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