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Music festival organisers successfully prosecuted for putting public safety at risk

| Your Area East

The organisers of a music festival in Bruton have been fined for safety breaches following a successful multi-agency prosecution led by South Somerset District Council.

Dan Whitshire and Daniel Hurring appeared before South Somerset magistrates in Yeovil on Wednesday 29 May where they pleaded guilty to offences under the Licensing Act relating to the One Love Festival at Gilcombe Farm.

In 2018, One Love Productions Limited was granted a premises licence by South Somerset District Council to hold a music festival at Gilcombe Farm in Bruton.

The court heard that, prior to the event, it became clear to South Somerset District Council and other authorities that multiple premise licence conditions were likely to be breached should the festival go ahead.

As a result Avon and Somerset Police, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service and South Somerset District Council expressed strong concerns and withdrew support.

Despite this, the One Love Festival went ahead between the 30 August and 3 September 2018.  A site inspection found multiple breaches of the event’s licence conditions.

South Somerset District Council took the offence seriously because the non-compliances that were identified “increased the likelihood of crime and disorder” and “compromised the safety of both staff and members of the public who attended the site”.

Festival director Dan Whitshire and festival organiser Daniel Hurring both pleaded guilty to an offence under the Licensing Act 2003: Section 136(1)(a) and (b), admitting the breaches of the premise licence conditions, namely:

  • That a final event management plan was not agreed with the local authority.
  • Failure to adequately manage traffic safely, internally and externally.
  • Failure to put in place an adequate potable water supply.
  • Failure to provide sufficient lighting on site.
  • Failure to sign off certificates for demountable structures.
  • Failure to implement an effective stewarding plan in terms of numbers and training.
  • Incorrect onsite speed limit of 10 mph instead of 5mph.
  • Lanes and road entrances were inadequately lit during the hours of darkness.
  • No running water in the medical centre.
  • Failure to prevent vehicles being able to access the arena and public areas.
  • Failure to implement an effective command structure and ensure that all personnel knew their responsibilities.
  • A failure to engage effectively with the Safety Advisory Group and provide agreed documentation prior to the event.

Magistrates imposed a fine of £2,000 with £2,000 costs and a £75 victim surcharge on Mr Wiltshire, citing that Mr Wiltshire was highly culpable for the breaches and that he had placed public safety at risk.

Mr Hurring received a fine of £750 with £1,500 costs and a £75 victim surcharge.

The multi-agency prosecution saw South Somerset District Council work in partnership with Avon & Somerset Police.

Speaking after the conclusion of the case, South Somerset District Council’s Leader Val Keitch said: “We really support and encourage events in South Somerset and we want people to have fun. But to be really enjoyable, it is important that events are well organised and safe for people attending.

“It is paramount that staff and festival goers are safe at these events and, while no one was hurt on this occasion, it seems this was down to good fortune rather than adequate organisation.

“This is a Council which takes the safety of its communities and visitors seriously, and is prepared to carry out enforcement when appropriate.”

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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