IW Festival problems: ‘Inaccurate information’ and contingency actions ‘largely unplanned’ says council report

Council report lays out their view of why the traffic problems occurred during the opening of the Isle of Wight Festival.


Isle of Wight council Strategic Director, Stuart Love, will be presenting a report to the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel on 26th November.

His report sets out the reasons for the disruption caused during the Thursday and Friday of this year’s Isle of Wight Festival, as well as the “actions that will be taken to ensure that there is not a repeat of this level of disruption in the future”.

Car parks inaccessible
As readers will remember, bad ground conditions (due to heavy rain) at the entrance to the festival car park resulted in huge delays for festival-goers arriving by car being able to get off the highway.

Mr Love’s report states that,

“It has become clear that, on Thursday 22 June, inaccurate information was being provided to the Council, Police and Ferry companies as to the rate at which vehicles were entering the car parks.

“This led to Ferries continuing to be loaded and delayed the decision to implement alternative car parking and traffic management arrangements.”

Sourcing contingency car parks was “reactive and largely unplanned”
As far as the contingency arrangements stood, the report states that these were mainly focused on bringing the existing car parks back into use.

By the time it became apparent that the additional tracking and gravel were having little effect there was already significant disruption on the road network.

The event organiser then contacted numerous private landowners with large areas of hard standing to negotiate the use of these for Festival parking.

This was done on a reactive and largely unplanned basis which resulted in some abortive deals being negotiated where agreement was reached by the event organisers with the landowner, only for the Council, Police and bus company to veto the plan on operational grounds.

Event Safety Operational Plan
As readers will remember, On The Wight broke the news that a condition of the licence to have the Event Safety Operational Plan signed off by the licensing authority prior to the event failed to happen.

The report states,

… one of the conditions of the Isle of Wight Festival licence is a requirement for the licencing authority to sign off the Event Safety Operational Plan. This requirement was introduced in 2011, however the ESOP has not previously been signed off by the licensing authority.

If you were hoping Mr Love’s report will explain why the ESOP wasn’t signed off, he gives this explanation,

“There is also currently no definition of what constitutes the licensing authority and there is no provision within the Council’s scheme of delegations that identifies where responsibility for signing the ESOP resides.”

Impact on residents and businesses
The report acknowledges the impact the congestion had on residents and businesses, citing delays to school buses, missed hospitals appointments, etc.

It also outlines what action will be taken to ensure the chaos that occurred is not repeated at future festivals.

Indeed, the traffic plan used for Bestival, a few (drier) months later, worked very well, with minimal impact on non-festival traffic.

For those interested in reading the full report, it’s embedded below for your convenience.

Image: Daniel Dionne under CC BY 2.0

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Friday, 16th November, 2012 1:36pm


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Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Newport, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. I wonder if the agricultural contractors who formed the backbone and vast majority of the solution to the problem have been paid yet?

    Last I heard they hadn’t.

  2. “There is also currently no definition of what constitutes the licensing authority and there is no provision within the Council’s scheme of delegations that identifies where responsibility for signing the ESOP resides.”

    What’s happened to ‘The buck stops here’ or have they all learned their lessons from Stepback Steve.

  3. Mike Starke

    16.Nov.2012 2:22pm

    I have been involved with an organisation turning over some £2m a year for nearly two decades, where my unpaid commitment has involved an annual risk assessment of the business.

    So, where do you start? Worst case scenario, of course.

    To cut a long story short, the IW Council’s six-figure-sum-salary Stuart Love does not seem to have come within a stone’s throw of a sensible risk assessment in respect of the IW Festival.

    But, then again, older readers might remember, when the festival first started and made a spectacular loss in its first year (predicted by industry experts, who were ignored by County Hall) there were no less than two independent inquiries into the fiasco.

    In one of these reports, the then head of legal services was quoted as saying he “deliberately” worded the contract “vaguely”… With an experienced player in the shark-infested waters of the music industry. Laugh or cry? Your choice.

    John Giddings, of Solo, plus Vinci-Meridiam, of road repairs, KNOW that all their Christmases have come at once. And who can blame them?

    The people to blame are the drooling idiots in County Hall, who nod through deals that they are incapable of analysing in any meaningful way on our behalf.

  4. So, the ESOP wasn’t signed off because nobody could figure out who should do that. Seriously?

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  5. retiredhack

    16.Nov.2012 3:53pm

    As far as signing off is concerned it was perfectly clear from the papers of the May 2011 meeting which approved the licence that the ESOP was to be signed off by the relevant director and Cabinet member. Love accepted responsibility on behalf of himself and George Brown for this “oversight” after the event. He now appears to be trying to rewrite history.

  6. “There is also currently no definition of what constitutes the licensing authority and there is no provision within the Council’s scheme of delegations that identifies where responsibility for signing the ESOP resides.”

    so lets get this straight.

    the council decided that someone should sign off on the event plan, but then failed to decide who that someone should be.

    I trust Stuart Love’s sacking for gross incompetence will be forthcoming very soon. To decide something should be signed off, but then fail to decide who should do the signing off is surely incompetence of the highest level. Clearly someone has not done their job properly. I would imagine thats Love, but if not, Im sure the responsible party will be fired immediately.

    • If this happened in the private sector, the responsible party would be handed their P45. The problem with our council and their high flying set is no-one wants to take responsibility…

  7. Is rewriting history in his job description? Oh, we’ll never know because he has probably rewritten it.

  8. Stuart Love can’t even get the date right ………….. it was Thursday 21st June not the 22nd!!!!!!!!!!!!

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