A decison to be made on this year's venue in the next 24 hours...

LEEDS FESTIVAL organisers the MEAN FIDDLER have been given the go-ahead to hold the CARLING WEEKEND event at TEMPLE NEWSAM PARK again this year, despite concerted opposition from local residents, MPs and police.

The decision by Leeds City Council licencing committee comes after the Mean Fiddler were also given permission for the event at Bramham Park, and they will now decide within the next 24 hours which location to stage the festival at.

Promoter Melvin Benn said: “I have told the council I will make a decision within 24 hours. It’s a case of weighing up the different options – the familiarity and beauty of Temple Newsam or the chance of a fresh start at Bramham.”

The Friends of Temple Newsam, who had strongly opposed the granting of a licence for the site, which has seen trouble with arson and violence on the final night of the August Bank Holiday festival for the last three years, were bitterly disappointed by the decision.

Liz Hayes – chairman of Friends Of Temple Newsam – told the Yorkshire Evening Post that local residents had been through “four years of hell” since the festival began.

“For the sake of money Leeds City Council has put its inhabitants through four years of hell,” she said. “The park is being put in jeopardy and is being turned into a hard hat construction site during the summer. Emergency services are put into the front line of what can only be described as a war zone.”

The Friends of Temple Newsam now fear that the beauty spot on the outskirts of the city will be ruined. “I feel we, the police and the park have been ignored by the panel,” Liz Hayes said.

“The park will be trashed, make no mistake, and I fear this event will now become a permanent fixture at Temple Newsam.”

The hearing yesterday (May 14) heard objections from MP George Mudie, local councillors, 69 local residents and the police, who said a “culture of violence” had grown up around the event.

The Mean Fiddler countered that the event was of national importance, bringing £5.7 million to the Leeds economy.

Mean Fiddler’s QC, Michael Bromley-Kent, said that plans to improve crowd safety included doubling the number of security staff to over 500, dividing the campsite into five smaller sectors to make it more manageable, the installation of non-combustible toilets, no glass bottles to be allowed on site and CCTV and lighting to be fitted to telegraph poles and not scaffolding poles which could be ripped out of the ground. Melvin Benn added that the number of bands on the Main Stage would be cut from 11 to nine, with any bands over-running their slot having their fee cut, to avert stage times running late and causing noise disturbance.

In granting the provisional public entertainment licence, the council attached the condition that there must be no campsite fires, and stewards must patrol the campsite to ensure that music played in tents does not disturb local residents.

Licencing Panel chairman Councillor Jack Dunn said: “We discussed this long and hard and what gave us most cause for concern was the violence from last year’s event and the disruption to residents.

“But we also feel we have got to give the applicant adequate chance to put into place measures to address these issues. Without these measures, neither this nor similar events would be allowed to take place in Leeds.

“There were concerns about the effects of noise on local residents, which is why we have insisted on the conditions attached to the provisional licence.

The promoter will have the responsibility of ensuring that clause 60, which governs the use of personal music systems, is adhered to and that local residents are not disturbed.

“We look forward to this year’s festival being a great success without any violence.”

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