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Music festival devastated by floods

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THE most detailed report yet on the disastrous flooding which wiped out last year’s Creamfields festival, near Warrington, has been made public.
Drawn up by Cheshire Police, it speaks of the festival site, at Daresbury, being “devastated” by torrential rain leading to a “significant risk to life.”
A large part of the site was inaccessible to emergency services, the report adds.
The report will be presented to Halton Council’s regulatory committee on Monday.
Last year’s festival – over the August bank holiday weekend – was cut short when the final day was cancelled.
Thousands of fans were given either full or part refunds – and afterwards there were calls from local people for a new site to be found for the event.
But in fact the organisers already have permission to hold the event on the same site on August 23-26 this year. Tickets have been on sale for months.
The police report says the most important issue for licensing chiefs to consider this year is the management of the site and event should there again be bad weather.
Insp Ian Ross says: “Several months of hard rain followed by
a torrential bout of rainfall on Saturday August 25, caused massive disruption
and the eventual closure of the site.
“The site itself was nothing short of devastated, with access to parts of the campsites blocked by waist high torrents of water. Several of the larger tents in the arenas shifted their position and large areas of the car parks and camp sites were made uninhabitable, with festival goers rendered effectively homeless and stranded.
“The lack of drainage year rendered the site inaccessible to emergency vehicles
for a period of time due to the levels of water at the North and South bridge
areas. The levels of water in car parks caused dozens of vehicle break downs
and more worryingly, the levels of standing water in campsites often meant that
the floors of several tents were many inches under water which caused a
significant risk to life.”
The report says there were several shortcomings in the organisers’ plan for dealing with major incidents on site. Massive flooding had wiped tents out leaving people without anything and no means to get home for at least another night.
Provision needs to be made for space tents, welfare tents, hot food and drinks, blankets, communications, etc, in case of another similar situation.
“In terms of on site communications, consistency of message did appear to be an
issue with contradictory messages being passed by the stewards and police. It is
vitally important that during major incidents, messages from all agencies involved are consistent.”
However, the traffic plan worked well, despite the weather creating difficult conditions.
Crime, overall, was down – partly due the last day of the event being cancelled. But there was a significant increase in the number of people arrested for possessing drugs with intent to supply.
There were still serious assaults, and dangerous weapons were recovered showing there was still a willingness by a minority of people to take weapons to the event.
Other points in the police report include:
*A large number of breaches of fencing with people trying to gain unlawful access.
*Stewards in watch towers were targeted by someone with an air rifle.
*St John Ambulance tended 590 people and the North West Ambulance Service was called to 88 incidents, with 14 people taken to hospital.
*The taxi rank was not properly marshalled, with confusion caused by some marshals having a limited command of the English language.
Halton Council environment health, in a separate report, say they had only one complaint about noise. For this reason, no officer worked on or off the festival site over the weekend.
An employee of a waste contractor lost an eye after being struck by a tent peg while removing tents from the camping field and this incident is still being investigated.
Local resident Paul Barlow said it was astonishing that the report from Halton environmental health made no reference to the emergency closure of the event, but perhaps understandable “since they now openly admit to no longer bothering to attend the event in any official capacity.”
It seemed both Halton and Warrington borough councils had abandoned their responsibilities.
He would like to know if the councils were pro-actively assessing any proposed solutions to site drainage problems.
“Poorly thought out drainage solutions would leave a legacy that could impact on the area for 365 days of the year, not just a single weekend.”
Pictured: Fans wade through mud to escape last year’s festival.

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Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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