LICENCE REFUSED FOR LEEDS LEG OF CARLING WEEKEND

The event is thrown into doubt by the decision...

The future of the LEEDS leg of the CARLING WEEKEND FESTIVAL has been thrown into doubt after its application for a licence was rejected.

This year’s festival is set to take place at Temple Newsam Park in conjunction with the Reading leg over the weekend of August 23-25. The highlight of the event is a headline appearance from Guns ‘N Roses, who are not scheduled to appear in the south.

However, the licence application has been refused.

In a statement, the acting chair of the licensing and regulatory panel, councillor Graham Hyde explained: “The panel are concerned that, at previous applications for a public entertainment licence for the Leeds Festival at Temple Newsam, certain assurances were given that improvements would be made to the control and management of the site.

“It is clear…that these improvements were not made. The Panel has no confidence that the assurances made today will be carried through and, therefore, the application is refused.”

Last year’s Leeds festival was marred by violence, with police in protective equipment being called in to control people throwing “stones and missiles” on the final night of the event.

Trouble started after a core of 30 people in a festival campsite set fire to three toilet blocks shortly after the end of the headline band at 11.30pm.

Local pressure groups had been petitioning to block the festival taking place. According to the local Yorkshire Post newspaper, the Friends of Temple Newsam Park, residents and councillors penned a letter to the licensing panel requesting the festival be held in another location.

On councillor, Lee Benson, wrote: “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 that the licensing panel give serious consideration to the risk of this being repeated.”

Another letter of complaint read: “As a resident I am affected every year by the appalling mess created by the people attending the August concerts. There is litter everywhere, it takes weeks to clear the park… The noise is a nuisance, often it is booming out until after midnight.”

The Friends of Temple Newsam Park concluded: “Many people now believe this type of large-scale event is causing a great deal of distress to the environment and it was high time it was stopped.”

An immediate appeal has been lodged to the Magistrate’s Court. Melvin Benn, Managing Director of the Mean Fiddler, who organise the festivals, said in a statement they feel they should be judged on their preparations for 2002, not the events of last year.

He claimed: “The preparations for this year’s event have gone well. The Police, the Fire Service, the Ambulance Service and all the Council Officers have raised no objections to the event because of the thoroughness of the preparation that have gone into this year’s application.

“However, the issues of last year have played on the minds of the Councillors and local residents and I believe the Councillors have judged last year’s event, rather than this year’s application. It is an emotional judgement, but I am certain will be overturned at the Magistrate’s Court….I am certain that Leeds Festival goers need not worry about the future of the event. It will go ahead.”

At the time of going to press, tickets for the festival remain on sale.