Leeds's Mint Festival to move to one-day event in 2021

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Organisers of a proposed student-orientated music festival have hit back at claims that their event could bring antisocial behaviour to east Leeds.

Members of Leeds City Council’s licensing sub-committee met to hear arguments for and against granting permission for 2021’s Mint festival – one of Yorkshire’s biggest electronic music events – to take place at Newsam Green Farm off Pontefract Lane.

Original plans had asked for permission to hold the event over a weekend with finish times at 2am on the Friday and Saturday – but updated proposals only ask for a one-day event finishing before midnight, with camping provision also removed.

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A representative of the festival moved to assure members of the panel that proper steps would be taken to ensure drugs and antisocial behaviour would be kept out, adding a contractor would be employed to carry out a post-event clean-up.

The Mint festival will move to a one-day event next year.The Mint festival will move to a one-day event next year.
The Mint festival will move to a one-day event next year.

But a local councillor said he still had reservations about giving permission for the event, having previously – along with other objectors – expressed concern about the event being a magnet for antisocial behaviour and drug use.

According to the plans, the first year’s event would have space for up to 14,999 attendees, while subsequent years would house up to 19,999 people. Permission would allow live music between 10am-11pm, and 10am-11.45pm for recorded music and the sale of alcohol.

The applicant’s representative said: “Mint Festival is dance and house music with interspersed live bands. It is aimed at a student-orientated crowd, with a profile of 20-25 years of age.

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“The team are highly experienced at running events. It would be in line with the council’s wish to establish Leeds as a major European city and cultural centre.”

Responding to concerns from objectors, he added that the event was for over-18s only, and that there was a specific drugs and alcohol policy.

He added: “There will be full ID screening, and anyone who cannot prove their age, or is deemed under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be refused entry.

“There will be an extensive litter clean-up, not only on site, but in the surrounding area. Mint Festival is fully aware of the issues that can be created and the annoyance to locals if it is not done correctly.”

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On the accusation from one objector that the festival would be a green light for “prostitution”, he said: “We are very uncertain where this has come from – this is a one-day student dance festival, therefore this can be ignored.

“If there is criminal damage associated with the festival, there is an insurance policy in place, but we don’t envisage that taking place at all.”

Garforth and Swillington councillor Mark Dobson (Ind) said: “I am pleased there has been a positive move in terms of the scope of the event. The fact it’s now been reduced to a one-day event does alleviate some of my concerns, but not all.

“It is impossible to take out a crystal ball, look into the future and look at what this event will look like in terms of 2021, but I am assuming this is the same Mint Festival that took place in Lotherton Hall.

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“When those events took place, I was the exec member for parks and countryside – the event took place on council premises.

“I am offering advice and warnings that the event in question caused a whole raft of issues. There were massive issues around dispersal, how the site was left, the police in terms of disorder.

“Dispersal was shambolic, a danger to the public, a danger to attendees and did not constitute any objectives of the licensing act.”

Mint Festival events took place in recent years on a nearby airfield, which is over the border in Selby District Council’s jurisdiction.

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Coun Dobson added: “It’s heartening to see the glowing response from Selby Council.

“It would appear the organisation has gone on a considerable journey since those events I have alluded to, but I would ask the panel to consider these points.

“If anyone is telling us the stop and search facilities are such that nobody would be entering that site in possession of illegal substances upon their person, I will happily accept that.

“Let’s hope that deeds speak louder than words.”

Members of the panel chose to discuss the matter in private, before making their decision. It will be shared with interested parties and made public within five days, the meeting was told.