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Angus Festival of House unplugged? Report recommends refusal of ‘incoherent’ plan

Festival director Craig Blyth.
Festival director Craig Blyth.

Angus Festival of House is under major threat after a bombshell recommendation by police and council chiefs that the summer dance extravaganza should not be allowed to go ahead.

The electronic dance music event hopes to attract 15,000 music fans to Panmure Estate, near Carnoustie, in June, with a string of big names booked to appear.

Underworld, Rudimental and Leftfield are among the headliners for the June 10/11 festival, but after being heavily criticised for the lack of event planning by Angus licensing board councillors just weeks ago, the FoH proposals have now been condemned as “incoherent” and “riddled with gaps” ahead of a crucial meeting later this week.

FoH is due to come before a special sitting of Angus Council’s civic licensing committee on Friday in pursuit of the public entertainment licence without which the gates to the open-air event cannot open.

But Angus Council communities director Alan McKeown has said he
cannot support the event going ahead with the management plans as they stand, a view also backed by other emergency services.

Mr McKeown’s recommendation to Friday’s meeting follows regular meetings of a steering group set up more than six months ago to consider all aspects of the festival organisation.

He states: “A safety advising group structure was developed and agreed by the festival organiser and all partner agencies.

The camping plan.
The camping plan.

“Angus Council has worked from the outset with the event organiser and with partners, and endeavoured to provide the necessary assistance, guidance and collaboration.

“However, a number of key areas remain of significant concern and fall short of the expected standards required for this event.

“There are significant gaps, conflicting information and inconsistencies which provide no confidence that the plans provide the foundation for the delivery of a professionally managed, safe event.

“The event management structure remains a concern, unclear and incoherent in terms of roles and decision making responsibilities.

“Traffic management issues remain to the fore … the plans are not deemed to be workable.”

Superintendent Graeme Murdoch of Police Scotland will tell this Friday’s meeting that there are major concerns about “critical” failings in the festival plans around issues including crowd safety and traffic.

Police have also condemned an “incoherent” management structure for the event.

Superintendent Murdoch has described the FoH event strategy as “riddled with gaps, conflicting information and inconsistencies” and he has said it provides “no confidence that the plans provide the foundation for the delivery of a professionally managed, safe event”.

“It follows as a consequence that Police Scotland do not intend from this time to continue to support the event and would not therefore intend to allocate resources to specifically police the event,” his submission adds.

Festival of House had expressed confidence at the last meeting of the licensing board that the required management plans would be in place ahead of the crunch meeting.

They have been asked to comment on the report going to Friday’s meeting.

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