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Police ask: T in what park? Officers only told of venue switch moments before public

By newadmin / Published on Sunday, 07 Dec 2014 10:33 AM / No Comments / 24 views

The T in the Park festival NC

The T in the Park festival

So it must have come as a surprise to senior officers when they were only told about the festival’s controversial move to Strathallan Castle moments before it was announced to the public.

In addition, newly released documents reveal that festival bosses were warned three years ago against moving to the 19th century castle, near Auchterarder, Perthshire.

Last night, Strathallan residents who oppose the move claimed that organisers DF Concerts failed to carry out consultations “with anybody”.

Following a Freedom of Information request, Police Scotland said the force was only told of the move on June 25 – the day the news was released to music fans.

Their response said: “On 25th June 2014, Police Scotland received a telephone call from the concert organisers and advised that a public announcement was to be sent out later that day, confirming that the 2014 TITP would be the last held at the Balado site. 

“This was confirmed in an e-mail by Perth and Kinross Council and followed by organisers holding a press conference at Strathallan Castle later that day.”

The festival – which attracts 85,000 music fans each day – had to find a new site after the Health and Safety Executive raised concerns over a BP pipeline which runs under its previous home at Balado, Kinross-shire.

Figures released in July showed that 3,600 offences had been recorded at T in the Park between 2004 and 2013, with a policing bill of £3.6million.

The crimes included three attempted murders, 10 sex attacks, an abduction attempt, 19 robberies, 11 serious assaults and 18 weapons crimes.

There were 2,304 cases of drug supply and possession as well as 875 thefts.

Mark Liddiard, 53, who owns a home on Strathallan Estate, said: “I’m not surprised at all.

“It sounds like Police Scotland found out on the day of the announcement, just like everybody else.”

It sounds like Police Scotland found out on the day of the announcement, just like everybody else

Mark Liddiard

Since June, Police Scotland has dealt with concerns over traffic management and the existence of an osprey nest on the proposed site.

On September 9, Superintendent Colin Brown provided colleagues with an “operational overview” of the new venue and eventually met with organisers for a site visit on September 15 – almost three months after the initial announcement.

A spokeswoman for DF Concerts said its strategic delivery group – which includes representatives from Police Scotland – had been made aware that Strathallan Castle was one of two potential new venues.

She added: “It is the duty of our experienced team to investigate a venue and to decide if it meets the needs of our event. 

“It is then our responsibility to apply to use that venue via the laws of the licensing process and to demonstrate exactly how we will successfully deliver the event. 

“The police are part of that licensing approval process and it is at that point that they will give feedback.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said it would be “business as usual” and they will work with the organisers and local community ahead of next year’s festival.

Meanwhile, in a separate Freedom of Information request, Perth and Kinross Council revealed it commissioned land experts Bell Ingram in 2011 to find an alternative location for T in the Park.

The firm’s report outlines 14 potential locations, scoring each against criteria provided by DF Concerts.

But Strathallan Airfield, which lies less than a mile from the Castle, was listed in 12th position after scoring just 41 out of 100. 

The rural spot was criticised as being “too remote”, “isolated” and for its poor accessibility from the A9.

The study recommended Middleton, an area north west of Gleneagles, giving it 70/100.

Mr Liddiard, who says his home is set to be in the middle of the campsite, fumed: “This shows that the council and DF Concerts were both told Strathallan was not an appropriate site.

“It was very nearly bottom of the list and didn’t even achieve 50 per cent on the ratings list.”

But a spokesman for Bell Ingram said the criteria had changed since 2011 and his staff were impressed after re-visiting Strathallan.

He added: “The outcome of this review was that Strathallan Estate became one of the preferred sites.”

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