Tuesday, August 27, 2002

FIDDLER ON THE LINE: Melvin Benn from the Mean Fiddler has just popped up on the Liz Kershaw show to defend the Leeds Festival, apparently proud that the marauding 500 people at the event only set fire to two of the sixteen toilet blocks - apparently, they'd tried to torch eight to half a dozen, one at a time, moving on to a fresh one with every block that refused to burn. He then concluded a dreadful performance by hoping that West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Council don't "give in" to the five, six hundred people who caused all the trouble. Which - apart from almost taunting the police - demonstrates clearly the problem with the Mean Fiddler's organisation of the event. There's no actual apology for the fact they lost control of their campsite (yes, fair enough, only one), or to engage with the criticisms advanced by Lib Dem Leeds Councillor David Morton, who has always been pro-Festival. He went as a paying customer, and had a great time, but he told Six Music he was not impressed with the stewarding; describing the stewards as unmanaged and demotivated, they weren't -in his opinion - doing their job properly. As to a festival in 2003, he explained that the council are contractually obliged to let the event proceed, so its down to the licence being approved by magistrates. In effect, then, Leeds 2003 depends on the police's attitude. And that might have a lot to do with the Mean Fiddler's approach to PR for the next year. So far, taking an attitude that "it's only a few hundred people out of thousands, why let them spoil it for everyone?" seems to be shuttling the event towards oblivion.

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