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Festival organiser 'profusely sorry' for traffic chaos
10:32am Tuesday 20th November 2012 in News
THE ORGANISER of the Isle of Wight Festival has said he is 'profusely sorry' for the traffic chaos caused by the this year's event.
John Giddings said the mud caused by torrential rain on the festival's car park was 'like the Somme'.
But he also criticised Isle of Wight council and some companies for not helping out when the problems occurred.
He said aerospace business GKN, who say they lost £55,000 in the chaos, had refused to let them use a car park as an overflow.
He also said Robin Hill Country Park had held the festival 'to ransom' for charging £10,000 to allow organisers to set up a park and ride at the park.
He also criticised Isle of Wight Council for making it difficult for him to contact relevant people.
John Giddings said: "It was quite an interesting few hours of my life.
"It showed who was prepared to help and who wasn't."
Isle of Wight Festival organisers have spent £200,000 on a brand new traffic plan, a hearing has been told.
Contingency plans have also already been put in place to open up extra car parks if there is ever a repeat of the traffic chaos caused by torrential rain at this year's event.
New Operations Manager for organisers Solo, David Steele, said: "We intend to redesign the whole process.
"There's a significant amount of investment that's going into this."
A licensing panel at the Isle of Wight Council is considering revoking the huge event's license today.
A new car park is part of the plans to avoid traffic chaos at next year's Isle of Wight festival.
The 25 acre field will have four entrances and six lanes to help organisers quickly get festivalgoers parked at the event.
Operations Manager Mr Steele has also told the panel that a media campaign will focus on encouraging people to use public transport to get to the event.
Since the festival this summer, heads have rolled as a result of the chaos.
Mr Steele said there has been a reshuffle following last year's traffic chaos at the event.
He said: "We have let some people go that let us down really badly and we have employed some people that are up to the job."
Solo have also claimed that they were 'silenced' fro updating members of the public via websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
John Giddings said he would be taking charging of public relations if problems occurred at the event again.
He said: "We were silenced at the time by certain services saying we don't want to say certain things.
"Next time we willl just take charge of it. We need to tell people immediately what's happening.
I think that's a fault that's easily changed."
Mr Giddings hsaid it will not be worth his while to invest in the event if the licensing period is restricted.
The event has a rolling license at the moment but it has been suggested it could be limited to a five year period.
But Mr Giddings has said he needs certainty to pay for improvements to the event.
He said: "There's all this infrastructure I'm investing in and if you start restricting the period of times it's impossible to recoup that investment over a short period.
"What we're trying to do is make this event successful over a long period of time.
"I'm willing to put my hand in my pocket to do that but if you don't want us to just tell me and we'll go away.
"This event has put the Isle of Wight back on the map in terms of being a famous music destination.
"If you tell me I have a restricted period of time then it's not worth me doing it frankly."
However, organisers of the festival have been supported by the Highways Agency and the police in their bid to keep their license.
Superintendent Brooks said the existing license was "fit for purpose".
Highways Agency representative Ian Thornton said: "The proposals that the organisers are putting forward are a sound basis for a measurable improvement."
Solo have argued at the licensing review that numbers allowed at the Isle of Wight Festival should not be reduced.
The license currently allows for 90,000 people to attend the event but Newport Parish Council have asked for this to be reduced to 79,999.
A record number of 65,000 paying customers attended in 2011 but this was slightly reduced in 2012 when 55,000 ticketholders turned up.
Solo have said that it was not down to the number of people attending that caused traffic chaos, but the torrential rain which was the 'worst in living memory'.
The organisers argued that only a finite number of cars can cross to the island on the ferries, and this capacity was reached in 2011.
They say if numbers exceeded 65,000, the extra festivalgoers would have to travel by public transport.
Solo's lawyer, David Clifton said: "To argue that the licence capacity should be reduced to restrict the numbers of cars coming onto the island is flawed."