January 4, 2001 15:53

EAVIS - GLASTO CANCELLATION DOWN TO SAFETY FEARS

Michael Eavis admits that the "fence-hopping" culture which has prevailed in recent years caused "some concern" in the wake of last year's Roskilde tragedy...

EAVIS - GLASTO CANCELLATION DOWN TO SAFETY FEARS
MICHAEL EAVIS has said that the cancellation of this year's GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL is due to the ongoing problem of fans getting into the event free, something that, in the light of last year's ROSKILDE FESTIVAL, is causing organisers "some concern".

In a statement issued to NME.COM, Eavis said that "after much deliberation and consultation" he has decided not to stage Glastonbury in 2001.

He continued: "There are many good reasons for this.

1) To show all the interested parties that there has to be more effective control over numbers, which means among other things designing a fence that works properly.

2)To tell all the people who came without tickets that their behaviour is not sustainable and that by doing so they are taking up valuable resources on site from people who are there legitimately.

3)The problem of excessive numbers is now causing us some concern, particularly after the festival in Denmark where nine people died last year."

He continued: "This year off will hopefully give a powerful message to everyone that we are worried about the large number of gatecrashers and we will use the coming months to develop ways and means of controlling entry to the site effectively."

Eavis promised that the festival will return in 2002, but hinted that if nothing changes, the future of the entire festival may be in doubt. He added: "People will have to understand that the growing culture of fence-hopping has to be stopped and the long-term prospects for the festival will depend on us succeeding."

Eavis went on to say that despite the problems which have led to this year's cancellation, festival organisers are "very proud" of the way Glastonbury is organised. He said: "The atmosphere and charm of the event is almost without comparison, which is in part why it is so successful. I have the greatest respect for the people who work hard to make this festival so unique; they have exceptional management skills and are for the large part volunteers. I am very sorry to make this announcement but you can be sure of one thing - we will be back next year in 2002!"

Eavis is currently facing allegations that he breached his licence conditions at last year's festival. Mendip District Council's Chief Executive Graham Jeffs told NME.COM: "There have been years in the past where the festival has taken a year out and that seems to be the sensible thing to do from time to time."

With regards safety and numbers issues being cited by Eavis as the key reason for the cancellation, he added: "Good. We would very much welcome that. We look forward, as we have done for the last 30 years to working constructively with the organisers to make sure that future festivals are highly successful and safe."

NME.COM Brand Director Steve Sutherland commented: "Glastonbury has been voted Best Live Event in the NME awards every single year it has happened. Its cancellation has a great impact on the summer activities. We will see one of two things happen, either other festivals will get enhanced line-ups or other people might think about doing their own festivals."

Promoter of the rival Reading Festival organiser and Mean Fiddler boss Vince Power said the cancellation came as a surprise, and it will be missed. "I'm surprised it's not on, that is very disappointing. It is such a huge festival, people go for more than just the music, they go for Glastonbury itself. It is an institution, 100,000 people just go anyway.

"Glastonbury has had a culture of of people getting in for free. But I am sure the problems are solveable. Michael feels very passionately about the festival, it is his baby, and I'm sure he will come back stronger next year."

He said it would possibly mean less repetition in the artists playing at this summer's events, but insisted it wouldn't have a great impact on the Reading festival: "It won't really affect us as far as crowds go, it is a different kind of festival." But he conceded: "The festival roster has become overcrowded, there have been too many and there is huge competition out there between us all. I think there won't be too much repetition of artists this year. There aren't enough artists for all the festivals that go on now, so they will play less."

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