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Festival fee blow

By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Festival fee blow

A VOLUNTEER festival director says he has had to re-mortgage his house to help meet the cost of policing fees and save this year’s event, which starts today.

GARDEN OF EDEN . . . Eden co-director Adam Curtis pictured with volunteers Imogen Francesca Hart and Oli Rennie in a promotional shot for the festival 

In 2015 Police Scotland charged the Eden Festival, at Raehills near Moffat, £11,000 to police the weekend, which attracts 8000 visitors. But this year festival organisers, who are all unpaid, were stunned when the fee was more than tripled to £37,000 – despite the size of the festival remaining the same.

Eden director Adam Curtis said: “We were previously offered a 50 per cent charitable reduction in costs as we are a charitable organisation, we are not just a Not For Profit Community Organisation, none of us take home wages either.

“This charitable reduction was taken away this year and the cost jumped up considerably and we were not informed of this when we did our budgeting and set our ticket price.”

He added: “We also found out last week that we had a 50 per cent deposit to pay this year, which we have not previously been asked for.

“We were told on Tuesday last week that if we did not pay it within seven days then Police Scotland would not police the event and we would therefore not get a licence.

“I have had to re-mortgage my house to pay the £18,500 demanded.”

And despite claims that only four people were arrested last year, the festival team are forking out for increased undercover policing with the number of plain clothes officers rising from two to 14 this year.

Adam said: “We pride ourselves on being a family friendly festival with a fantastic atmosphere and very little trouble.

“Last year there were only four arrests which is very low for a music festival.

“I am not sure how the leap in policing is justified and this will absolutely make the event unviable. The intention behind implementing absurd amounts of undercover police is most worrying.”

He added: “Last year Eden Festival generated £1.5 million for the local economy and the irony is that Police Scotland have stated that they have to charge to protect the public purse.”

However, Police Scotland have defended the fee increase. Dumfries and Galloway local policing commander Gary Ritchie said: “We continue to work with our partners and event organisers to ensure that this year’s festival is an enjoyable and safe family event.”

He explained the cost of policing has increased for several reasons, including a ‘slight’ enhancement in the policing provision and a change in the charging mechanism from last year.

He added: “This change brings the arrangements for policing costs for the Eden Festival into line with the arrangements across the country for the policing of music festivals and ensures that policing to local communities is not compromised when these festivals take place.”





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