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Petition move against police festival costs

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By Fiona Reid
Front
Petition move against police festival costs

A PETITION against the spiralling costs of festival policing has been started by the creators of volunteer run Eden Festival.

Earlier this year the Raehills based festival saw the cost of policing their event rise by more than 300 per cent – from £11,000 in 2015, to £37,000.

And to meet the increased bill, unpaid festival co-director Adam Curtis says he had to re-mortgage his house, or risk cancelling the June event.

Now the team at Eden have launched a petition on the change.org website, entitled “Hold the police to account, to keep major events in Dumfries and Galloway.”

Mr Curtis said: “The issue of Dumfries and Galloway festivals being overcharged by Police Scotland has reached suchapoint that it is becoming unviable to hold such an event in the region.”

He explained that although 8000 people attended this year, only 4000 were paying customers and the rest artists, crew, volunteers and children.

He added: “Despite employing 75 Security Industry Authority (SIA) trained guards in 2016, Police Scotland did not reflect this in police numbers on site and in essence filled posts that should be and normally are, filled by SIA private security.

“Our public entertainment licence is subject to the police’s approval. However, there is scope for the council and licence board to rule the police provision as excessive and allow the use of SIA private security instead.”

Urging people to support the campaign, he said: “Without support major events in Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland will be at risk of being closed down by soaring police costs.”

Defending the cost increases, Chief Superintendent Gary Ritchie said: “I am fully supportive of music festivals and recognise the benefits they offer to the whole area. The prime concern of the police is to ensure these events take place safely.

“The reason costs have risen is because I determined that the organisers, as commercial enterprises, were no longer entitled to discounts that had been enjoyed in previous years. “For all commercial events, those holding the event have to pay for their policing. If they don’t, thenIhave to remove policing from communities to cover the event.”

He added: “I very much doubt that the public of Dumfries and Galloway would tolerate having police officers removed from their usual patrols in order to provide policing to a commercial event.”

Explaining more, the police boss said: “We police according to the safety policies the organisers develop and have approved through local councils as directed by The Purple Guide. It would be irresponsible to deviate from that.

“Any additional policing, which on occasionIhave considered necessary due to past experiences, was provided by Police Scotland National Specialist Departments at no extra cost to the organisers.”

■ To sign the petition visit: https://www.change.org/p/hold-the-police-to-account-to-keep-major-events-in-dumfries-and-galloway

Annan and Eskdale, Be, Front

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