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Festival organiser says sorry for travel chaos and plans to foot the bill
IT'S all my fault and I will be picking up the bill.
They are the words of Isle of Wight Festival boss John Giddings today as he begins to count the cost of the biggest clean-up operation in the history of the event.
The music promoter said only he was to blame for the traffic chaos that left hundreds of festival goers trapped in cars through the night and brought gridlock to the Island.
And now he is preparing himself for the mammoth financial impact of trying to get 55,000 people safely on and off the festival site over the past four days.
As reported, torrential rain last Thursday turned car parks and campsites into a mudbath, with vehicles stuck in boggy fields unable to move unless they were towed.
Dozens of extra police had to be drafted in to help execute an emergency plan and control the traffic while tractors and 4x4 vehicles were used to haul vehicles.
Mr Giddings told the Daily Echo: “I’m responsible and I have to take the criticism. I am really sorry that there were some people who were inconvenienced.
“The thing is that nobody expects that at the Isle of Wight – the sun always shines here, that’s what they think.”
Mr Giddings added: “I know what happened, what went wrong. I placed a lot of cars on a car park that was waterlogged, it couldn’t cope and whatever I chucked at it just didn’t work.
“The result was that I created the biggest traffic jams on the Island since 1970 and I am really sorry that it happened.
“Everybody was coming to help and I am so grateful. I rented over 100 4x4s and 100 tractors to tow people out and it has been incredible. It has cost me a fortune. Firstly I wanted people out and on their way home safely and the next thing is to repair the fields to the same state I found them in.”
Asked who will pick up the tab for the extra policing resources, Mr Giddings said: “I will. I just agreed to everything that was needed without looking at the cost. I had to do whatever it took because it was my responsibility.
“I am sure there will now be an inquest into what happened, but I need to decide what to do.”
He added: “Everyone I spoke to in the campsites yesterday who was waiting to get helped out was telling me it was one of the most incredible things they have ever been to. I must say Bruce Springsteen was absolutely beyond incredible. He asked if he could play on later so he sang during the fireworks. People said it was one of the most incredible things they have ever been to.”
But asked what the future holds for the festival at Seaclose Park, he said: “I will continue doing the Isle of Wight Festival as long as people want to come to it.”
Isle of Wight Council boss, Stuart Love, director of economy and environment, said the additional policing costs would be a matter to be resolved between the police and John Giddings.
He said: “The event is of tremendous cultural and economic benefit to the Island and is enjoyed by many thousands of local people.
“Though the difficulties experienced this year are obviously regrettable and unacceptable, I am sure new plans can be put in place to prevent such issues occurring at future events.”