MUSIC FANS attending the collapsed Hope and Glory Festival (HGF) in Liverpool were lucky to escape without serious injuries, an independent report has found.
Commissioned by Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson and carried out by The Event Safety Shop (TESS), the report says the 12,500-capacity event held in St George’s Quarter, was poorly planned and suffered from “failures of management and operational control”.
“Serious risks to public safety resulted,” says the report, compiled by TESS’s Tim Roberts and Charles Hewett, adding that ticket-holders suffered “discomfort, confusion, anger and disappointment”.
The second day of the August festival was cancelled by organiser Lee O’Hanlon of promoter tinyCOW following overcrowding, long delays and artistes’ performances being cancelled at the last minute.
A number of those attending who were questioned for the report, described feeling “completely unsafe” and shocked by the situation they encountered.
The festival had no signage installed and no emergency plan in place. There was also no designated area for lost children and confusion surrounded the queuing system, as some customers were given the wrong wristbands.
As the situation began to unravel on the first day, O’Hanlon asked a police community support officer to call the police to help, saying “he had lost control”. Following a meeting with officials from Liverpool City Council (LCC) at around 6pm, O’Hanlon was then out of contact with the operational management team until 2am the next morning, when he told technicians preparing for the second day, the event would be called off.
The team from LCC were praised by TESS for their role in taking charge of the event, along with security, and allowing the remainder of the first day to be completed.
“An important consideration is what effect a cancellation would have on the approx. 6,500 people inside – many of whom are agitated and not well disposed towards the organisers,” the report says.
However, the council was not blameless for how the festival unfolded.
“Opportunities were missed by the council’s Safety Advisory Group and the associated Joint Agency Group to identify shortcomings in advance,” the report adds.
O’Hanlon says that he continues to hold the festival’s head of production Richard Agar responsible for the majority of the failings, and that he was not given adequate opportunity to contribute to the report.
“As much as I welcomed the review and really wanted to be a part of it, I’m afraid it became somewhat of a farce,” O’Hanlon tells LIVE UK.
“There were a few emails, but I guess given that they [TESS] were being paid by the local authority, may have informed that decision.”
The report concludes that the decision to cancel the second day was justified given the problems and had the full capacity of 12,500 attended, the risk level would have been “unacceptable”.
“This report was all about learning lessons, and although our procedures have served us well for the past 10 years, the context and environment for staging events has changed in recent years, so we need to be honest with ourselves and reflect on the processes and procedures that are in place and react to the recommendations put forward,” says mayor Anderson.
HGF entered liquidation with debts of £888,984 and assets of just £63,600 to pay its 32 creditors (see LIVE UK issue 213).