Mint Festival 2022: Police warn against Leeds festival licence citing 'drug use, thefts and intoxicated revellers on motorway'

Plans to allow a weekend-long music festival to take place in east Leeds have been heavily criticised by police and Leeds City Council officers, who worry for public safety if it goes ahead.

By Richard Beecham
Saturday, 5th February 2022, 11:45 am

Applicants Mint Festival Ltd want permission to hold the annual Mint music festival on Newsom Green Farm in Pontefract Lane for the weekend-long event this coming September.

Organisers insist the event would be organised responsibly and cause “minimal impact” on locals.

But a letter from West Yorkshire Police claims last year’s event saw drug use, thefts and intoxicated revellers wandering onto a nearby motorway, and that it would be unlikely the event would go ahead safely.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Mint Festival in 2017

The Mint Festival, which specialises in electronic dance music, took place in 2021 as a one-day event, but organisers now want permission to extend it to a weekend-long festival.

According to the application form, performance of live music would be allowed from noon until 11pm on the Friday, 10am-11pm on the Saturday and 10am-10pm on the Sunday. It wants permission for up to 19,999 attendees at the festival.

A licence for the event on this site had been granted last year but, following a debrief meeting after the event, agencies raised concerns regarding public safety, noise and highways issues.

A letter from West Yorkshire Police licensing officer David Parker stated: “Enquiries have resulted in a decision that it is the opinion of West Yorkshire Police that the event cannot be held safely.

“West Yorkshire Police submit a formal representation to this application for a licence. This representation is on the grounds that the application would have a negative impact on the licensing objectives.”

A list of incidents from last year’s festival was added to the letter, including “indication of drug usage on site” and “12 individual reports of theft from persons attending”.

It added: “Festival goers were able to encroach onto the M1 motorway putting themselves and the general public at substantial risk. There were numerous reports via 999 throughout the day of pedestrians walking on the motorway.

“Some of these were established as festival goers trying to get or from the site in a state of intoxication. At 2.19pm a member of the public reported “hundreds” of youths “running about” on Bullerthorpe Lane in front of traffic. Officers were despatched but fortunately there were no arrests or injuries.”

“The general safety concerns raised arising out of the 2021 event. We have not received any indication that these have been adequately addressed.

“The infrastructure around the general site location does not lend itself to a safe and crime free event.”

Read More

Read More
Leeds Council to set up ‘environmental crime team’ to tackle illegal dumping

A letter from Leeds City Council licensing officers echoed the concerns around the number of people walking on Bullerthorpe Lane, adding: “Access roads leading to/from the event site were busy with eventgoers walking in the carriageways (no footpath along Newsome Green Road) in conflict with event-related vehicular traffic.

“No lighting along the main parts of Newsome Green Road which created a risk for pedestrians using the route during egress from the site. Eventgoers were being dropped off in vehicles on Bullerthorpe Lane at the junction with Newsome Green Road which created congestion in the vicinity and risk of incident involving pedestrians going to/from the event site and event and non-event vehicular traffic.

“The above feedback was provided based on a one-day event. The Authority is of the opinion that a three-day event over one weekend with significantly increased numbers of event-goers and event vehicular traffic movements would bring increased traffic management issues and potential traffic associated risks.”

Local councillor Mark Dobson (Ind) wrote a letter to the council expressing his concerns about the festival, adding: “Many of the people at the festival were young adults or minors. I continue to be worried about this festival with its history of drug use and alcohol use on site and I do not believe, looking at the images last year, it was done to manage this and I do believe there is potential harm to young people.

“To be honest I fully expect the council subcommittee to pass this because last year nobody appeared to want to give due diligence to public concerns which, of course, is a matter for them but I do feel duty‐bound, as do my two colleagues, to speak up for public safety and common sense.”

The application form from the organisers states that the festival audience is likely to fall in the 18-25 age bracket, and that there will be no camping on site.

It added: “A competent team of event professionals and specialists have been appointed to design, plan and safely deliver Mint Festival and the Live Music ct with minimal impact to the local community and the least possible inconvenience to neighbours and the surrounding community.

"The planning process involves full and ongoing consultation with the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) through formal group meetings and also through appropriate discussions and meetings with individual SAG partners including various representatives of Leeds City Council, the emergency services and other relevant agencies.”

The Mint festival is one of Yorkshire’s biggest electronic music events, with last year’s line-up including Amelie Lens, Eats Everything, Gerd Janson, Maya Jane Coles and Ricardo Villalobos.

In years prior to 2021, the event was held on nearby RAF Church Fenton, which sits in the neighbouring local authority area of Selby.

Members of Leeds City Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee will meet to discuss the plans on Tuesday, February 15.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you'll see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.