Council completes investigation of Boomtown Festival 2013

Press Release: 14/11/2013

Winchester City Council has completed its investigation of the 2013 Boomtown Festival held at the Matterley Estate near Winchester in August.

The Council has concluded that the organisers learned a great deal from the previous year and produced a successful event with fewer complaints and much-improved site management and health and safety.

Nevertheless the Council has decided that it would be appropriate to call for a formal review of the licence under which the event operates in order to consider issues such as permitted audience numbers, hours of operation and noise levels. The public will be able to make representations on the licence as part of the review process, which will be considered at a future meeting of the Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee.

The Council considered carefully the option of prosecuting the event-organisers for breaches of noise levels at the 2013 event, but decided that the issue would be best addressed through a formal review of the licence.

The brief nature of one of the breaches – for a few minutes after the 4am shutdown by one operator on site – the highly technical aspects of the noise conditions and external legal advice all persuaded the Council that a licence review rather than prosecution would be a proportionate response.

Cllr Rob Humby, Winchester City Council’s Deputy Leader, whose Portfolio includes the economy, the arts and tourism, said:

Boomtown is a major event for Winchester culturally and economically. I am reassured that the organisers learned lessons from last year and reduced the number of complaints and problems. There is still more to do and the Council will continue to work closely with the organisers.

Cllr Jan Warwick, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods and Environment which includes Licensing, said:

After careful consideration we have decided that a review of the licence is the best way to secure further improvements for the Boomtown Festival in 2014. This is a proportionate response to the level of issues arising this year compared with the option of prosecution which could take a long time, cost a great deal of public money and would not necessarily deliver improvements. This option allows everyone to have their say on the conditions to shape the event for the future.

The Council’s assessment of the 2013 event looked at three main issues:

  • Numbers attending the event – there was no evidence that the 29,999 capacity was exceeded and the police had no concerns that this licence condition was breached.
  • Finish time of the event – there was evidence of a short breach by one operator on site, continuing five minutes beyond the 4am limit, but also some conflicting evidence that the activity finished promptly at 4am.
  • Noise levels – there was evidence that noise levels in the frequency range of 63Hz exceeded 65dB on a number of occasions ranging up to 72.3dB. However, there was a legal question mark over the way in which the frequency was defined in the licence condition.