Eavis Plays Down Local Ticket Issue

Glastonbury chief Michael Eavis’ decision to cut the number of free tickets he hands out locally hasn’t gone down well beyond the nearby English villages of Pilton, Pill and Sticklynch.

Eavis has previously given tickets to people living inside a certain area, but this year he’s drawn in the boundary and angered a couple of hundred people living 2 miles further away from the site at Parbrook and West Compton.

The fuss started nearly a month ago, when the festival posted maps in various locations around Pilton that showed a new, smaller area had been drawn up.

“We’re still giving away 3,000 tickets and the change only affects around 200 people,” Eavis told Pollstar a couple of days after The Independent quoted an unnamed source as saying “a substantial number” of locals feel they’ve been forced to fork out £175 to go to the festival.

“A lot of people have been disenfranchised and are feeling pretty sore about it,” said the unnamed resident. “For most of us who live within the boundary, the festival impacts on us in one way or another – in my case it’s the traffic.

“If you get a free ticket, you turn a blind eye to it, because you’ve got a week or so of having a good time. Normally you feel quite benign about it all. But if you don’t get a free ticket, you don’t feel quite so benign.”

A festival representative told the paper that Eavis and his daughter Emily, who is jointly responsible for running the festival, did not want to upset local residents and had employed a representative to go village to village listening to concerns.

Each summer, many of the people in the Pilton area see their free festival ticket as compensation for the 200,000 people descending on their peaceful part of England. Those who have lost out this year (June 24-28) will still receive a ticket for the festival’s Sunday.

“It’s not like days of old when there were hippies all over the place, wandering around and trying to get in free,” Eavis explained. “It’s much more ordered now and people tend not to turn up without a ticket, which has cost us £1.5 million for a fence and a further £1.2 million annual police bill.

“It’s not so much the tickets as the fact we’ve always bought them back from people who don’t use them, which means we pay for them and try to get the money by putting them up for sale again,” he said. “It’s fine when the festival sells out, as it has this year, but in other years it’s not good to be sitting on up to £60,000 worth of those tickets on the night before the festival’s due to start.

“The Glastonbury festival is constantly changing and evolving. I don’t know of any other festival or major event that looks after people who live locally as well as we do, and the majority of people will remain unaffected.

“If you live near a major airport, it doesn’t mean you can have free flights all the time.”

This year’s festival is June 24-28. Acts confirmed so far include Lily Allen, Neil Young, Blur and Bruce Springsteen.