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Video: Why Leeds Festival won’t be another mudbath this year

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BRAMHAM Park owner Nick Lane Fox has revealed details of measures designed to prevent a repeat of the mudbath that blighted last summer’s Leeds Festival.

Around £50,000 has been spent installing 1,000 metres of piping to improve drainage at Bramham, which has been home to the annual rock music extravaganza since 2003.

A layer of stone has also been put in place underneath the top soil in the section of the site used for the festival’s Piccadilly Party gatherings.

The area was one of the worst affected by the quagmires that took hold during the torrential rain that battered last year’s privately-organised event.

A similar layer of stone could be set down on a shop-packed sloping part of Bramham Park that is known as ‘trader alley’ during the festival.

Mr Lane Fox said: “We obviously cannot control the weather but what we have done aims to alleviate its effects if it does turn nasty again.

“Things got pretty bad last year – at one point the top soil was flowing down the hills like lava.

“People were finding it hard to stand up and so safety became a concern.”

Mr Lane Fox also said that, as Bramham was a Grade I listed park, any improvement work had to be extremely carefully planned and carried out.

Last year’s difficult conditions at the site had a knock-on impact on the centre of Leeds, with streets becoming a sea of mud and dirty wellies during the post-festival exodus of fans to the city’s railway station.

At the height of the problems, a team of staff sent into Leeds by event organiser Festival Republic collected more than 200 pairs of discarded boots before taking them back to Bramham Park.

Leeds City Council bosses vowed to recover some of the costs of the clear-up operation, which saw a small army of street cleaners being pressed into action.

The council also hinted that steps to keep the city centre as clean as possible could be made part of the event’s annual licence agreement.

One idea that was floated was the provision of hosing-down facilities at the exits from the festival site, near Wetherby.

Hoses were used at a Tesco store in Seacroft to wash the footwear of fans arriving to stock up on supplies during the 2013 event.

Asked for an update today, a council spokeswoman said: “Positive discussions on this year’s event management plan are continuing.

“Proposals to deal with the vagaries of the weather are being discussed to ensure lessons are learned from last year.

“Festival Republic has agreed a contribution towards the cost of last year’s clean-up.”

The spokeswoman was unable to give details of the overall bill or the proportion of it that would be picked up by Festival Republic.

This year’s three-day event will take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend and will feature acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Blink 182, The Courteeners and Jake Bugg.

Formerly known as Mean Fiddler, Festival Republic began putting on outdoor summer music spectaculars in Leeds in 1999.

The firm recently announced plans to increase the crowd capacity at the festival to nearly 90,000.

• LEEDS Festival made the move to Bramham Park after a troubled stay at the Temple Newsam estate in east Leeds.

Its low point had come in 2002, when a 200-strong mob went on a three-hour wrecking spree that caused £250,000 of damage and left more than 40 people injured.

The concerts have, however, passed off peacefully since switching to Bramham Park.

Revised traffic masterplans have also helped ease pre-event queues on the roads around the site.

The worst traffic disruption occurred in 2008, when some drivers in areas such as Cross Gates and Halton found themselves stuck in jams for up to seven hours.

 

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