Unless the promoter, Mean Fiddler Music Group (MFMG), can convince the Leeds magistrates to overrule a Leeds City Council (LCC) decision to deny a license for that northern city’s part of the festival, it will be faced with holding the event on the more southern Reading site alone or abandoning it altogether.
A license application to hold the August 23-25 festival at the city’s Temple Newsam Park has been refused by LCC’s licensing panel because local objectors have voiced fears that the trouble and fires of the last two years will be repeated.
At the end of those events, fans have gotten into the habit of overturning bottled beer stores and setting fire to toilet blocks.
In a prepared statement, the acting chairman of the licensing panel, Councillor Graham Hyde, said, “The panel is concerned that, at previous applications for a public entertainment license for the Leeds Festival, certain assurances were given that improvements would be made to the control and management of the site.
“It’s clear that these improvements weren’t made. The panel has no confidence that the assurances made today will be carried through and, therefore the application has been refused.”
Following the trouble at the end of last year’s festival – when police in riot gear had to suffer a bombardment of stones and missiles in order to protect firemen trying to put out blazing toilet blocks – local pressure groups lobbied the council to get the festival moved elsewhere.
Councillor Lee Benson wrote to the licensing panel to say, “Members of the licensing panel will be aware of the repeated violent conflicts that once again occurred at the 2001 event and I would request the festival be held in another location.”
It’s rare for a panel to refuse a license when there has been no objections from the police, fire or ambulance services, or any council executives, and MFMG’s Melvin Benn is reportedly confident he’ll get the ruling overturned in the local magistrate’s court.
So far, no appeal has been lodged as MFMG needs to be very precise about what it’s appealing and the company feels the LCC panel hasn’t been sufficiently specific about its grounds for refusal.
Benn was not available for comment at press time.
The appeal was expected to be in by the evening of June 21, and then the local magistrates would need to fix a date for it to be heard.
Ironically, it was only about three months ago that Mendip District Council granted a license for the Glastonbury Festival. The license was given because MFMG agreed to run the security.
Bands on the Carling Weekend bill include The Strokes, Foo Fighters, Prodigy, Pulp, Muse, Offspring, Jane’s Addiction, Feeder, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Spiritualized, Aphex Twin, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead, and Vines.
Tickets for both Leeds and Reading are nearly sold out.