FATBOY BEACH ‘NIGHTMARE’

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Police and emergency services begin post-mortem asking how they got prospective number of attendees so wrong...

Police and emergency services in BRIGHTON are launching a post-mortem into Saturday’s free FATBOY SLIM gig that plunged the town into chaos when 250,000 people showed up for an event expecting 60,000.

A massive clean-up operation is now in place – paid for in part by Fatboy Slim himself – trying to shift 100 tonnes of rubbish left on the beach.

The event spiralled out of control when party-goers, attracted by the weekend sun, flocked to the seaside resort for the Big Beat Boutique show.

By noon, ten-mile tailbacks stretched up the A23 towards London. By 3pm police realised they had a major incident on their hands and extra officers were drafted in to cope with the gathering crowds.

As the day went on, Brighton’s public transport system and emergency services were stretched to breaking point.

One man died of a heart attack at the event and a 26-year-old woman is still critically ill in hospital after falling from railings onto the lower esplanade during the crush. And congestion was such that the coastguard was called in to help ferry those in need of medical treatment to hospital.

Thousands of people were left stranded in the city overnight as trains out of Brighton could not cope with demand. Despite four extra trains and a fleet of buses, an estimated 25,000 people slept on the beach.

An emergency meeting is being convened by the police and emergency services to look into what went wrong and whether or not there is a future for the event.

Council leader Ken Bodfish told local website www.thisisbrightonandhove.co.uk he thought the event had been a success. He said: “There were many more people than expected. The fact there was such unexpected good weather also helped to attract many others.

“I think the event has probably got as a big as it could possibly be and we will need to look at that in the future.”

Ian Keeber, a spokesperson for the Royal Sussex County Hospital where around 100 revellers were treated for their injuries, was not so positive.

“It was an absolute nightmare. We were a hair’s breadth away from declaring a major incident,” he said. “As far as we are concerned we don’t want this event happening again. Staff were working flat out. Many carried on after their shift while others came in to help. We had patients with various problems including crush injuries, lacerations and twisted ankles.

“There may have been no problems with violence but as far as we were concerned it was a very difficult night.”

Fatboy Slim, who put up £100,000 of his own money to make sure the event went ahead, paid tribute to those in the emergency services and involved in the massive clean-up needed.

“We now have to return the city I love to how it should be seen,” he said. “This was without doubt the biggest gig of my career. Brighton has responded superbly. I would like to thank the emergency services on the night and everyone involved in the clean-up operation.”

Were you at Saturday’s event? What was the atmosphere like? Were you lucky enough to get one of the trains out or did you have to sleep on the beach? What lessons do you think can be learned from the event? Should it happen again? Should it happen, with better preparation, on the same scale again?

Email news@nme.com with your thoughts.