Tickets for the Electric Picnic 2020 are completely sold out but lingering doubts and concerns continue to prevail over the increased crowds and safety controls in place for the event.
The issue has been raised once again at the December meeting of Laois County Council, where the potential for serious trouble were described as “an accident waiting to happen.”
Cllr Aisling Moran is once more to the fore in highlighting what she believes are serious and potentially dangerous shortcomings in the management, operations and services at the event.
The planning department have approved a further increase in crowd numbers for the popular festival, up from 55,000 this year to 70,000 for 2020.
Cllr Moran told colleagues and local authority management this week that she is baffled and astonished that the massive increase in numbers have apparently been sanctioned without any sufficient regard to the shortcomings and concerns she and others highlighted at previous Council meetings in the aftermath of the September 2019 concerts.
The concerns raised centred around health and safety, crowd control, sanitation and services, public urination and overall security, the continued use of single-use plastics and the wholesale dumping of thousands of sleeping bags and tents.
With some strong words and a salutary warning Cllr Moran said she was in disbelief that a further 15,000 attendance had been approved despite the health and safety concerns she had previously highlighted from first-hand experience and attendance at the Electric Picnic.
“These issue have to be properly addressed. There needs to be councillor representation on the Committee that deals with the Electric Picnic. Another fifteen thousand is suicide.
“The Electric Picnic will not be there for much longer if you allow it to go ahead under the same conditions. We need two members from the Council on that Committee,” she warned.
Cllr Moran received support from her colleague, Cllr Thomasina Connell.
“There are a lot of children attending the Picnic and with this increased volume of people being permitted it is an accident waiting to happen and that will be the end of the Festival.
“Remember we are supposed to be the licensing authority for this event and if anything goes wrong it is us who will be held responsible,” cautioned Cllr Connell, herself a solicitor.
On the proposal of Council Chairman, Willie Aird it was agreed that there should be three councillors formally nominated on to the Committee on which the local authority liaise with the Festival Director, Melvin Benn and his team.
It was agreed that these should be from each of the political groupings on the Council and it was unanimously approved they should be Cllrs Paschal McEvoy, Ben Brennan and Aisling Moran. All three members are based in the electoral area in which the Electric Picnic takes place.
Following the meeting Cllr Moran said she was glad that there is finally the elected representatives are finally included on the co-ordinating Committee between the local authority and the EP management.
“Mr primary interest at all times is the safety, enjoyment and wellbeing of the thousands of visitors to Stradbally for the Picnic and that the safety measures and services in the campsites and elsewhere are adequate to ensure the festival is safe and sustainable.
“I think we need more transparency and accountability from the Electric Picnic people and also to ensure that the benefits of such a large Festival are shared by the local community in Stradbally and the surrounding areas.”
Electric Picnic 2020 will take place over the first weekend in September from the 4th to the 6th, with tickets priced at €260 already completely sold out.
Festival goers can pay a further €30 for the privilege of being allowed early entry on the Thursday evening. The performers and line-up for the concerts has yet to be announced but the Body & Soul franchise have announced that they are withdrawing from the Electric Picnic.