We Are FSTVL gets three-year licence for annual four-day music festival in Upminster
- Credit: Archant
The organisers of We Are FSTVL have been granted a licence to host almost 40,000 people at the electronic dance music festival in Upminster for the next three years.
The promoters originally applied for a permanent licence to hold the four-day event at Damyns Hall Aerodrome, but at a meeting of Havering Council’s licensing committee yesterday (Monday, February 12), councillors agreed with a police recommendation that a fixed term licence be granted instead.
An initial request to have live music allowed on the site until 3am on the Friday and Saturday nights, and 1.30am on Monday was also reduced to 1.30am on the festival’s first night, when only the 7,000 campers will be on the premises, and 12.30am on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Delivering the council’s verdict, Councillor Linda Trew, licensing committee chairwoman, said: “While we note the concerns raised by the responsible authorities, we consider that the applicant has satisfied us that the event can be safely run with a capacity of 39,999, of which no more than 7,000 will be campers, 2,999 staff and 30,000 day ticket holders.
“In terms of hours we note the significant reduction in hours from the initial application, which we welcome.”
The committee’s decision to grant the licence was unanimous, but councillors were not prepared to grant a permanent event licence as requested.
Cllr Trew added: “While we have been impressed with the professional and extensive planning of the event, and note the success of last year’s event, we consider that this festival is still evolving, and the significant increase in capacity that we have agreed to grant this year means that in order to retain an adequate level of scrutiny by the licensing authority we agree with the police evidence that a three-year licence is appropriate.”
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Concerns raised by a resident of Damyns Hall Cottages, who lives just 300m from the festival’s campsite, were also noted by the committee, which urged Reece Miller, the festival’s founder, to continue working to reduce the event’s impact on local residents.
During the licensing hearing, police officers had raised concerns about the increased capacity of this year’s festival.
Last year’s event had 20pc more revellers than in 2016, and officers reported a 50pc increase in recorded crime.
Of the 115 crimes recorded at last year’s festival, 83 were thefts – including one 17-year-old victim, despite the event being over 18s – 15 were drug related and nine were assaults.
There was also one allegation of rape and two reported sexual assaults.
The police were particularly concerned that of the 24 arrests made at the 2017 festival, at least three were members of security staff apprehended on suspicion of dealing Class A drugs.
Richard Hanstock, representing the police at the hearing, said: “No security team, no team of any type, can be stronger than its weakest link, and there were a number of weak links in last year’s security arrangements.”
But event organisers claimed the uplift in reported crime last year was the result of a better search policy and more robust policing of the event.
Mr Miller also delivered an impassioned speech in which he claimed the event had been constantly improving its safety and transport policies over the last six years.
He said; “When we started, we were very honest. Back in 2012 when we made our initial licence application we said that we were aiming to create a permanent event.
“We also made no secret that if were successful we were going to grow. That’s a positive because we want to make all our plans work and be good neighbours to everyone.
“Our position has remained consistent, and we have won several public and industry awards as a result of my team’s hard work.”
He also claimed that a permanent licence would grant “stability” that would allow organisers to invest more heavily in long-term infrastructure projects around the festival site.
This year’s festival will run from Friday, May 25, with campers allowed on-site until 2pm on Monday, May 28.