Time to stand up against an increasingly authoritarian and conservative dictatorship.
September 7, 2021
Whirl-y-fayre cancelled, Noisily cancelled and so many more cancelled in 2021; some because of issues around insurance (read Covid, read Conservative game playing) but others due to an unsettling new approach to psytrance and neo hippie festivals by local councils, especially conservative ones.
***PSYMERA FESTIVAL POSTPONED UNTIL 2022***
“It is with much frustration and a heavy heart that we share the news of Northamptonshire Environmental health department (NOISE) declining our bid for the festival 23-27th September 2021 on the grounds of noise concerns on the site we had secured, the same as they had previously agreed upon.
On reflection we feel that this was a choice made on their part based on discrimination for our music as their support in getting this done changed its tone when they learned it was trance music on the menu.
We love and appreciate the endless support you guys continue to offer as we do everything possible to navigate through the challenging waters of event promotion in 2021. We know what a huge disappointment it is for all our Psy family.
We are deeply disappointed to be in this position and to concede that for the remainder of 2021 it is not possible to run this event. We are now in the process of securing a new venue and date for the festival in 2022.
All tickets will automatically be rolled over to the new date in 2022.
We hope that you’ll hold on to your ticket and join us at this exciting new event.
We would ask that you hold tight for new dates and venue information before deciding what to do.”
*****Goa Cream Festival******
This article from the Guardian says it all:
“Covid-cautious festival cancellations dampen ‘great British summer’ hopes
This article is more than 4 months old
Promoters cite financial risk of staging events that the government could shut down at short notice
“A trickle of festival cancellations is poised to “become a flood”, with more than nine in 10 independent events privately indicating they may not go ahead, senior industry figures have said, after Boomtown festival became the third in a week to cancel.
Boomtown’s announcement on Tuesday morning came days after the arts festival Shambala and the indie rock festival Barn on the Farm announced last week that they would not go ahead. All three cited the financial risk of staging events that could be shut down at a moment’s notice by a reimposition of Covid restrictions.
A statement posted on the Boomtown website on Tuesday said: “Sadly Covid-specific cancellation insurance for events simply does not exist at this point in time. This means anyone putting on an event this year will be doing so without the safety net of insurance to cover them should Covid prevent them from going ahead in any capacity.”
The past week’s cancellations followed those of the Bluedot festival this month and the Download and Belladrum Tartan Heart music festivals in March. Glastonbury, the UK’s biggest summer music festival, announced in January the cancellation of its 2021 event.
Despite promises by government ministers of a “great British summer” of music, event organisers have for weeks been saying many events might not go ahead if the government did not step in to back insurance against the risk of a reimposition of Covid restrictions.
Paul Reed, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, said a recent poll of his group’s membership had found that 92.5% said they could not go ahead without some form of government-backed insurance or indemnity scheme. AIF represents about 80 festivals, comprising 40% of the UK’s festival calendar.
Organisers were pushing decision dates back as far as they could, in case a change in circumstances made it possible to go ahead with confidence, Reed said.
“I think we’re going to see a wave of cancellations from this point forward … I’m having crisis meetings with festivals,” he said. “We know that more cancellations are coming, unfortunately. There are other festivals that have already made that decision and it’s just about the timing of the announcement.”
As Boomtown announced its cancellation on Tuesday, Live, which represents the live music industry, told Boris Johnson there had been a “complete market failure” to provide festivals with the insurance cover they needed. In a letter to the prime minister, Greg Parmley, the Live chief executive, calls for £400m remaining from the government’s culture recovery fund to be allocated to cover event organisers’ costs if they are forced to cancel on public health grounds.
Similar schemes are in place in Germany, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway, the letter notes.
Commenting on the letter, Parmley said the trickle of cancellations so far would “become a flood” if a solution to the problem of insuring events was not found. “The prime minister has said he wants this to be a great British summer,” Parmley said. “So do we. But that won’t happen if our world-leading live music events disappear for the second year in a row.”
Where does it all end? Its interesting the events that are allowed to go ahead and those that are told they cannot. Psytrance events seem to be blocked all the time. Yet another festival at the same venue the following week are told they can go ahead????
As stated in the messages from Psymera and Goa Cream, local councils are using Covid as a smoke screen to block psytrance festivals because of noise concerns; well that’s new!
These same councillors could also ban trance festivals next year and the year after (using noise as a reason) but only if its a trance event; rock, pop or beer festivals are fine. We are being controlled and stifled by right wing conservative councils; let alone this government…
…this fucking government with its false promises.
Boris in November 2020:
“The vaccine is here and next year (2021) we will all be back to normal”.
“Its freedom day, night clubs and festivals and large events can now go ahead”.
Yes, If you are a football match, or if you are a pop festival, but if you are an undesirable event as seen through the eyes of the like’s of Priti Patel, then you will no longer be granted permission to have your festival, using Covid or noise as an excuse to cover up their true bias.
I’m not normally this politically outspoken, but my very lifestyle is under threat and all under the guise of the pandemic, its a controlling dictatorship by stealth.
And don’t even get me started on this fascist…
…many nightclubs like Psymera, Whirl-y-Gig and Tribal Village are not open yet, too many legal barriers. Festivals are being cancelled left right and centre, so what are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to go?
We chose forest gatherings, psytrance parties in the woods. We could finally express ourselves again.
But no! How dare we. Priti Patel (UK home secretary) will not have it:
“Priti Patel used false data about illegal raves to push police crackdown, report claims
“New powers were given to forces to help curb illegal events during COVID lockdowns”
- READ MORE: NME Investigates: the rise of illegal raves
Mixmag‘s exposé has suggested that the UK Home Secretary used incorrect information provided by the Met Police to justify a hardened stance last summer in which the forces in England and Wales were given extra powers to curb Unlicensed Music Events (UMEs).
Measures included up to a £10,000 fine for those holding an illegal gathering of more than 30 people, which Patel addressed in an op-ed published over the 2020 August bank holiday weekend for The Telegraph. New laws were in place to help cut the transmission of COVID.
“In London alone, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events – such as big raves and parties – since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend,” wrote Patel in the article.
“We will not allow this breathtakingly selfish behaviour from a senseless minority to jeopardise the progress we have made together…That is why we are cracking down on the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions”.
“The FOI revealed that the figures the Met Police published were instead the number of “messages” about illegal raves recorded on the force’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system – not the number of confirmed unlicensed events.
Therefore a separate CAD message is formed for each message sent by a person to the police, meaning that, for example, if 50 people report the same illegal rave the system calculates 50 CAD messages for that UME.
Last Wednesday (August 18) the Met police issued an apology to Mixmag for “confusion” over the statistics used by Patel. It clarified that the data the Home Secretary used related to the number of “pieces of information about events in the capital [London]” received by the police force, not the number of events identified.
However, the Met declined to provide a breakdown of the correct number of illegal raves identified by the force during that time period.
Additionally, while the press release containing the incorrect information can still be viewed online here, the Met has since removed the note and issued a statement in response: “We may have received several calls by several different members of the public when in fact it is only one incident with several CAD messages.”
“A Home Office spokesperson issued the following statement to NME on Thursday [August 26]: “During the height of the pandemic, illegal raves were extremely dangerous and put people’s lives at risk.
“Police forces have worked hard to gather and share intelligence in order to detect and disrupt unlicensed music events which were purposely organised at short notice to avoid detection, and took the appropriate enforcement action through the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices, where necessary.”
They added that they have noted that the Metropolitan Police has now clarified that the figure referred to 1,000 pieces of information about UMEs. The spokesperson said that Patel “used this figure in good faith and with the understanding that it was correct at the time”.
“We also note that the Met Police made exhaustive efforts to shut down such events, as they were illegal at the time and posed a risk of Covid-19 transmission,” they concluded.
Earlier this year police broke up revellers at an illegal rave in Dorstone, Herefordshire. It was one of many similar gatherings that were shut down by police this year.
According to the BBC, people travelled from as far as Cambridge, Portsmouth and London for the event that saw 150 people in attendance on April 3.
West Mercia Police said it issued a Section 63 dispersal order under the Criminal Justice Public Order Act to break up some of the ravers, who were still there early on the Sunday morning”.
But its not only the stopping of festivals and events that concerns me, this conservative government under Boris Johnson is bringing in more and more laws to control and curb our behaviour; our freedoms slowly diminishing.
We are tracked wherever we go. We are manipulated and lied to; people like us are looked down upon and seen as not good conservatives.
“Are We Being Controlled By The Government?”
“Rashed Miah Comment: “We are constantly being brainwashed every day. The latest commercials, the movies we watch, the news we consume on a daily basis; everyone is trying to brainwash you into thinking a certain way. But the biggest culprit of this mass propaganda program is the government. The government wants to control its population as it is easier to operate when the masses are subdued and there is no chance of resistance. It was much harder to control the general population back in the ancient and medieval times, but with the advent of the electricity and the television and the radio, it is easier to control the entire population now.”
“The government wants to control our thoughts and actions and make us think in a certain way”
“As we are constantly bickering amongst ourselves about race and religion, the elites keep plundering our wealth and strip us from our civil liberties.”
“With the advent of social media, lies can be spread like wildfire and propaganda can be spread to all corners of the global with the click of a button. Our governments don’t represent our best interest, they only serve the elites who fund them.”
“When you turn on the TV, you are being brainwashed by the media and the government. This is because they don’t say the whole truth, but only enough to fit their agenda. We need to break ourselves from the shackles of the government and start thinking for ourselves. We need to stop fighting with each other while the rich continually robs us. When we unite and stand together, the government can no longer brainwash us or control our thoughts and emotions. When we start educating ourselves and liberate our minds with the real truth, then we can all live in peace and harmony, and free ourselves from the control of the government.”
NEW LAW IS BIGGEST RESTRICTION ON OUR FREEDOM IN A GENERATION
“Liberty will be closely monitoring and scrutinising a new law brought in as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19.
- New powers of detention
- Lower care standards and vital safeguards removed
- Powers could be in place for more than two years
“Liberty will be closely monitoring and scrutinising a new law brought in as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19.
Analysis of the legislation, which was passed yesterday (25 March 2020), shows that despite the six-month sunset clause, some of these powers could remain in place for longer. The new law also gives Government the power to renew any part of this legislation for up to six months.
Given that Public Health England doesn’t expect this crisis to extend beyond spring 2021, it’s deeply worrying that these powers could be invoked beyond two years.
Liberty’s Director Martha Spurrier said: “This new law is without doubt the biggest restriction on our individual and collective freedoms in a generation.
“What people may not realise is the extent of its powers, and how long they can be in place for.
“It gives the authorities new powers to detain any one of us that they believe could be infected with the coronavirus.
“It also removes vital safeguards in care standards, leaving many people who are already at risk, such as disabled people, at further risk, not only of poor care but also of potentially inhumane treatment.
‘While change is necessary, and some of the measures outlined in this legislation are entirely sensible, others are overbearing and, if left unchecked, could create more problems than they solve.
“The breadth of this legislation is also extraordinary. It runs to more than 300 pages and includes some spectacular restrictions, including powers to rearrange or cancel elections.
“We’ll beat this virus, but these measures must be a last resort in that battle and these powers must be removed as soon as possible. We cannot and must not sacrifice all of our hard-won rights and freedoms.”
All I am personally saying is, we need to really be on the ball with this government over civil liberties or we will find everything we care about as hippies and free spirits will be taken away and we will find ourselves living in a controlled conservative society. This is why I choose Goa as my future home, I do not want to be part of what is happening to my home country of the United Kingdom; I reject it!
What are Civil liberties?
“Civil liberties are basic rights and freedoms granted to citizens of a country through national common or statute law.
They include freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of religious worship.
Such rights and freedoms form the basis of a democratic society and are often denied to those living in a dictatorship.
Civil liberties are distinct from human rights in that the latter are universal rights and freedoms to which all people throughout the world are deemed to be entitled; however, the two often converge.
While human rights are unalterable, civil liberties can be taken away or limited.
As the COVID pandemic has made clear, there are circumstances in which civil liberties can and must be restricted. However, while our civil liberties can be altered in times of crisis, our human rights remain exactly the same.
Civil liberties and Coronavirus
In exceptional circumstances governments will step in to restrict the civil liberties of their citizens so to promote their and society’s safety; this is the optimistic view, at least.
In March 2020, the government introduced and began enforcing national ‘stay-at-home’ ‘lockdowns’ designed to break the chains of transmission of a novel Coronavirus: COVID-19. By one year later, the government had enforced 3 national lockdowns as well as several ‘local lockdowns’ across Britain. The government was given such powers through the UK Coronavirus Act 2020.
Countries across the world with authoritarian leadership have used the pandemic to justify further crackdowns on civil liberties. For example, President Orban in Hungary has used COVID as a shield to pass emergency laws that give him the power to rule by decree.
The organization, Freedomhouse.org argues that ‘Governments have responded [to COVID-19] by engaging in abuses of power, silencing their critics, and weakening or shuttering important institutions, often undermining the very systems of accountability needed to protect public health’. They suggest that global democracy has grown weaker in 80 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This suppression of civil liberties in the UK specifically has been criticised by civil liberty campaign groups as going too far and for too long. Liberty UK relates: ‘The Government’s response to the pandemic has left some people behind. It’s time for a fresh approach, one that prioritises support and human rights, so that everyone is protected during this public health emergency’.
Under lockdowns – local and national – police have been granted extensive powers to break up meetings, stop protests and issue fines. The act also includes potential jail terms for anyone spreading ‘misinformation and fake news’.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 has proved immensely controversial in its capacity to restrict civil liberties. The Act requires parliamentary renewal every six months, Labour MP Chris Bryant argued it should be 30 days – and Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, also suggested the bill should be subject to more frequent parliamentary scrutiny. Conservative backbencher Steve Baker reluctantly supported the bill but said that it was ushering in a ‘dystopian society’.
In response to the bill, Liberty UK said the government is ‘prioritising punitive measures in its response to the public health crisis’.
According to critics, vaccine passports as one response to the coronavirus pandemic, also threaten the British public’s civil liberties. This prospective scheme would require Britons to give the state our medical information. Those without passports, or the correct/information within them, could be ejected from pubs, restaurants or frozen out of social activity.
In early 2021, the government defended the potential proposal on the basis that it is important to know the medical/vaccine status of the population in order to safely relax ‘lockdown’ measures.
History of civil liberties in the UK
In the UK the concept of civil liberties has evolved over several centuries through conventions, legal precedents and legislation.
The Magna Carta, drawn up in 1215, is usually cited as the first piece of legislation to guarantee certain liberties and rights, although its primary purpose at the time was to limit the power of the tyrannical King John by establishing that the monarch was also subject to the rule of law.
Of the original clauses, only three remain valid. The first supports the freedom, rights and liberties of the Church of England; the second confirms the liberties and customs of the City of London and grants liberties and customs to other cities, boroughs and towns. The third remaining clause is the most well-known. Originally written in Latin a modern translation reads:
“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled; nor will we proceed with force against him except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
It is this clause which has been interpreted widely as confirming the right to trial by jury and habeas corpus, and its influence is seen in various pieces of subsequent legislation including the United States Constitution.
The Bill of Rights 1689 -“An Act declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject, and settling the Succession of the Crown”– further limited the power of the monarch and established the supremacy of Parliament.
Its clauses include provisions for free parliamentary elections, for parliaments “to be held frequently” and for freedom of speech within Parliament (parliamentary privilege). In relation to the courts, the bill stated that “excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
The Bill of Rights, which was drawn up at the time of the accession of William and Mary, remains in force today. Like Magna Carta, its influence can be seen in other legislation relating to the rights and freedoms of individuals, in particular the US Bill of Rights 1789, and also the UN Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in force 1953, which includes both human rights and civil liberties.
The UK helped draft and is a signatory to the ECHR (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) which is a binding international agreement. Signatories undertake to protect rights and freedoms within their own countries. Residents of these countries who have a grievance under the terms of the Convention may take their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
New Labour reforms (1997-2010)
This process of taking a case to the EHCR had often proved to be extremely lengthy and expensive. Consequently, the Labour government introduced the Human Rights Act 1998 (in force 2000) which made rights from the Convention enforceable in UK courts, thus negating the need to petition the ECHR.
However, the Labour government elected in 1997 was frequently accused of running a ‘nanny state’ and by the time of the 2010 general election, criticisms increased to more serious accusations of excessive state interference and state control, infringements of civil liberties and a gradual erosion of the rights of the individual.
One of the main concerns was the enormous number of new criminal offences brought in by Labour. Between 1997 and 2009, 4,289 new criminal offences were created, approximately one for every day the party was in power; and the number continued to increase, rising from 27 new offences a month under Tony Blair, to 33 a month under Gordon Brown.
Several new laws passed under ‘New Labour’ were ridiculed for their absurdity; for example, it was made an offence to offer for sale a game bird killed on a Sunday or Christmas Day; or to swim in the hull of the Titanic without the permission of a Cabinet minister.
The Liberal Democrats roundly condemned this “frenzied approach to law-making” and accused Labour of having “an obsession with controlling the minutiae of everyday life.”
The government’s proposed introduction of ID cards together with an accompanying national identity register was widely opposed, as was the increased retention of data on the DNA national database, particularly the decision to store the DNA of large numbers of innocent people.
Further concerns about infringement of civil liberties were raised by the passing of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), dubbed the ‘snoopers’ charter’.
The Act created a regulatory framework to govern the way public bodies, such as the police and security and intelligence services, operated. It allowed the use of covert techniques when investigating terrorist threats and other serious crimes. The government-stated purpose was to ensure investigatory powers are used in accordance with human rights.
These powers are: the interception of communications; the acquisition of communications data (e.g. billing data); intrusive surveillance (on residential premises/in private vehicles); covert surveillance in the course of specific operations; the use of covert human intelligence sources (agents, informants, undercover officers); and access to encrypted data.
Initially, only nine organisations were allowed to use RIPA powers and attempts by the Government in 2002 to extend their use to hundreds more public bodies were defeated by civil liberties campaigners and cross-party MPs. Nevertheless, the number of public bodies using covert surveillance continued to grow.
In 2009, the Liberal Democrats reported that 795 bodies, including all 475 local authorities, were allowed to use RIPA powers, with councils using covert techniques originally designed to prevent terrorism, to “spy” on individuals suspected of trivial offences such as cases of dog fouling or checking whether a person resides in a school catchment area.
A Lords Select Committee recommended in 2009 that the Government introduce a system of judicial oversight for surveillance carried out by public authorities, and that compensation be made available to those subject to unlawful surveillance. The committee also urged the Government to take steps to ensure that these powers were “only exercised where strictly necessary, and in an appropriate and proportionate manner.”
There also were numerous other measures introduced by Labour, claimed as necessary to fight the so-called “war on terror”, which were seen as a serious threat to civil liberties.
At the same time, in 2000, Tony Blair’s government introduced the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which provides members of the public with a right to request access to information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them. These public bodies include government departments and local assemblies, local authorities, health trusts and hospitals, schools and colleges, and the police.
The Equality Act 2010 is also intended to protect civil liberties by prohibiting discrimination, harassment and victimisation in relation to nine protected characteristics: These are – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Unfair treatment is prohibited in the workplace, when providing goods, facilities and services, when exercising public functions, in the disposal and management of premises, in education and by associations (such as private clubs).
Coalition/Conservative governments (2010-present day)
Following the 2010 General Election, the coalition government said it believed the British state had become “too authoritarian” and promised to “implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion.”
The coalition government committed to New Labour’s 2000 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and extended the number of public bodies covered by the provision in 2011. According to the Ministry of Justice, the FOIA ‘is key to the Government’s wider transparency agenda….and the increased accountability it brings is also important to the Government’s work to protect civil liberties’.
The Coalition’s Protection of Freedoms Act passed in May 2012 included a new framework for police retention of fingerprints and DNA data, a code of practice for surveillance cameras and a new regime for police ‘stop and search’.
The Government also established an independent Commission to investigate the possible creation of a new UK Bill of Rights which would ‘incorporate and build on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensure that these rights continue to be enshrined in UK law, and protect and extend our liberties’. However, almost ten years later, no government has yet introduced a UK Bill of Rights.
However, not all civil liberties concerns were addressed by the Coalition and an alleged ‘new’ ‘snoopers’ charter’ reared its head in the form of the Draft Communications Data Bill published in June 2012. The Bill proposed to allow security services access to all communications data – i.e. records of all emails, texts and phone calls – and for communications service providers (CSPs) to collect the data which will be stored for 12 months.
The proposals attracted widespread criticism from a variety of sources. Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert warned: ‘The Home Office will have to satisfy Liberal Democrats – and others – that existing safeguards are being strengthened, that any extensions to collection powers really are necessary and are proportionate, and that any changes represent increased rather than weakened protection for civil liberties. If they can’t, then this will simply not pass’.
The 2012 proposal were dropped, but in 2015, then-Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new investigatory powers bill. This, again, was dubbed the ‘new snoopers charter’. The Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 greatly expanded electronic surveillance powers of the British intelligence agencies. Civil liberties pressure group, Liberty, has made getting rid of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 one of their key campaigns – and even sued the government for its repeal. In 2019, a British court ruled against Liberty saying the ‘bulk powers’ of the Act don’t breach privacy and free expression rights. The organisation is appealing against that decision. The 2016 Act was justified on the basis of safety and security.
The right to protest and the policing of protests is another issue which constantly raises questions about infringements of civil liberties.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 prompted serious concerns about how it might impact the rights of communities and citizens to make their voices heard through the use of peaceful protest. According to the government this ‘legislation … enable[s] the police to deal better with protests in general’ and works to ‘broaden the range of circumstances in which police may impose conditions on a protest’. The act also increases prison sentences and gives police more powers of arrest over those peacefully protesting.
The pressure group, Friends of the Earth UK have said the act ‘also criminalises the lifestyle of Nomadic, Gypsy and Traveller communities and limits access to nature’.
The table below shows the most recent World Democracy Audit scores and rankings achieved by the UK. Lower scores are considered preferable.
World Democracy Audit overall ranking: range 1-150. UK ranking 13
Political rights range 1-7. UK ranking 1
Civil liberties range 1-7. UK ranking 1
Press freedom range 0-150. UK ranking 16
Source: World Audit.org – 2012″
I am sorry to rant and be so political, but I feel so strongly about this. Boris! How dare you stifle me under the veil of Covid and noise. You and your government don’t want me; well tuff! Us hippies and free spirits are here to stay and we will not lay down and take this!
I prey that our festivals are back next year and if local councils find a way to block psytrance festivals we must not lay down and take it; we need to fight it.
So, back to those cancelled festivals, it seems we are not the only one’s concerned about this:
Even at the beginning of this year some politicians recognised that political games were being played with the festival organisers:
‘Save our festivals, Boris’: Over 40 MPs ask PM to rescue summer
“42 MPs want the Prime Minister to back a £250million insurance scheme for event organisers to ensure festivals can go ahead.
It comes after Boomtown, a 70,000-person music festival, cancelled this summer’s event, blaming the lack of a government-backed insurance scheme.
Glastonbury Festival, the traditional season curtain-raiser in June, has already been postponed to 2022 and will instead run this year online.
Reminding Mr Johnson of his promise of a ‘one-way road to freedom’ by 21 June in accordance with the roadmap, the MPs write that ‘this underwriting should not cost the taxpayer a penny’.
Among the signatories are Mark Harper and Steve Baker, chairman and deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory backbenchers.
Writing for MailOnline today, Mr Baker said: ‘After a year in which we have forced young people to stay at home, stop doing everything they love to do, and having asked them to give up so much, many have rightly been looking forward to a conventional British Summer – especially as they have been told we are on a ‘one-way road to freedom’ by 21 June.
‘But this prospect is being snatched away.
The MPs’ letter in full:
Dear Prime Minister,
Thank you for all you and your team are doing to fight Covid-19.
With the success of the vaccine rollout and as we head towards 21 June, it’s vital that ministers act now to ensure live music events and festivals can go ahead this Summer by assuming contingent liabilities against cancellation and restrictions imposed by Government.
The live events industry is one of the UK’s major employers, with 262,000 people employed in music alone. Figures from October 2020 show that around 170,000 employees are set to lose their jobs due to the pandemic and the response to it. Decisions about whether these events can go ahead this Summer are going to have to be made in the next few days.
The live events industry does not require another lump sum from the Culture Recovery Fund. It requires insurance – insurance against the political risk, however minimal, that the Government will impose restrictions on the industry and its customers after 21 June.
A government-backed insurance scheme for event organisers announced this week will ensure that live music festivals can proceed with their plans to go ahead after 21 June. It would cost a maximum of £250 million and given that we are on a “one-way road to freedom” by 21 June as stated by the Prime Minister, and the Health Secretary said he hoped social distancing rules would be removed from then too, this underwriting should not cost the taxpayer a penny.
Without this, most music festivals and live events will be cancelled this Summer with countless job losses and business closures. This scheme would save £1.1 billion of costs to the industry, would give confidence to organisers so that they can prepare for their festivals to go ahead, would turbocharge Britain’s economic recovery and would bring hope to millions of festival-goers and young people – who have borne the brunt of lockdown – that life this Summer will be a normal one.
‘Every day, the public and those trying to make a living from putting on and performing in live events and festivals hear a constant to-ing and fro-ing on the news about what life will really be like after 21 June.
‘Nobody feels they can plan, invest or even look forward to anything with any certainty any more.’
The MPs distinguish their plan from previous government support schemes and furlough by saying that the live events industry ‘does not require another lump sum’ from government, but requires ‘insurance against the political risk, however minimal, that the government will impose restrictions on the industry and its customers after 21 June’.
The letter said: ‘With the success of the vaccine rollout and as we head towards 21 June, it’s vital that ministers act now to ensure live music events and festivals can go ahead this summer by assuming contingent liabilities against cancellation and restrictions imposed by government.
‘Without this, most music festivals and live events will be cancelled this summer with countless job losses and business closures.
‘This scheme would save £1.1billion of costs to the industry, would give confidence to organisers so that they can prepare for their festivals to go ahead, would turbocharge Britain’s economic recovery and would bring hope to millions of festival-goers and young people – who have borne the brunt of lockdown – that life this summer will be a normal one.’
Organisers of Boomtown, which is held in Winchester, Hants, said last night they were ‘devastated’ to abort for a second straight year but unwilling to stake millions on lockdown having ended by August.
They said: ‘For an independent event as large and complex as Boomtown, this means a huge gamble into an eight-figure sum to lose if we were to venture much further forward, and then not be able to go ahead due to Covid.’
They lamented a lack of a Government-backed insurance scheme to provide a ‘safety net’ for festivals grappling with unprecedented circumstances.
It piles more pressure on the Treasury to insure festivals through an indemnity arrangement, which has been backed by the likes of Jools Holland and Robert Plant.
Boomtown had been scheduled for August 11 to 15 and in February sold out.
But organisers announced the ‘heartbreaking news’ they had run out of time to find a solution to the ‘mind-boggling conundrum’ of how to pull off the event.
A statement said: ‘With less than four months to go until the event, and after almost half a year of collective campaigning to the government, sadly Covid specific cancellation insurance for events simply does not exist at this point in time.
‘This means anyone putting on an event this year, will be doing so without the safety net of insurance to cover them should Covid prevent them from going ahead in any capacity.’
A ‘very generous’ grant from Arts Council England only covered a ‘fraction’ of the costs, it added.
Fans were left dismayed by the news, with one saying he had ‘nothing to look forward to now until December’.
Young people have borne the brunt of the pandemic, now let’s give them something to look forward to, says Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group
Young people may have borne the brunt of the economic impacts of this pandemic. Their life chances have narrowed, job prospects and economic security diminished and, with many living alone or in shared accommodation, unable to see families and friends, their mental health has often been severely impacted too.
After a year in which we have forced young people to stay at home, stop doing everything they love to do, and having asked them to give up so much, many have rightly been looking forward to a conventional British Summer – especially as they have been told we are on a ‘one-way road to freedom’ by 21 June. But this prospect is now days from being snatched away.
Every day, the public and those trying to make a living from putting on and performing in live events and festivals hear a constant to-ing and fro-ing on the news about what life will really be like after 21 June. Nobody feels they can plan, invest or even look forward to anything with any certainty any more.
After a year in which we have forced young people to stay at home, stop doing everything they love to do, and having asked them to give up so much, many have rightly been looking forward to a conventional British Summer
When the Prime Minister says we are on a ‘one-way road to freedom’, I take him at his word. On 25 March, when Parliament was debating the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, the Health Secretary confirmed that Step 4 – June 21 – was freedom from regulations.
And in early March he said he hoped social distancing rules would be removed then too. But I can fully understand why the events industry finds it difficult to invest the time and the resources into planning events they fear might be banned at the last minute by Government.
So, with the success of the vaccine rollout and as we head towards 21 June, it’s vital that ministers act now to ensure live music events and festivals can go ahead this Summer by assuming contingent liabilities against cancellation and restrictions imposed by Government.
Decisions about whether these events can go ahead this Summer are going to have to be made in the next few days and we’ve already lost the prospect of the Boomtown music festival this week.
Everyone is worried about spending more and more taxpayer’s money on bailouts. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, our borrowing levels are at the highest levels in peacetime in more than three centuries and we now have a higher national debt than the size of our economy for the first time since 1963. But the live events industry isn’t asking for another lump sum from the Culture Recovery Fund.
They require insurance – not against a business risk, but against the political risk, however small, that the Government will impose restrictions on the industry and its customers after 21 June.
A government-backed insurance scheme for event organisers announced this week will ensure that live music festivals can proceed with their plans to go ahead after 21 June. It would cost a maximum of £250 million – which is, of course, a lot of money. But none of this would ever need to be paid if – as I suspect – we are all truly on a ‘one-way road to freedom’ by 21 June and to reclaiming our lives and freedoms.
The live events industry is one of the UK’s major employers, with 262,000 people employed in music alone. Figures from October 2020 show that around 170,000 employees are set to lose their jobs due to the pandemic and the response to it. And the economic impact of each cancellation will take its toll for a second year running.
This isn’t about famous stars being unable to perform. It’s about those people working on staging, lighting, sound, video, catering and more – many of them younger people, again losing out on work and impacted the most.
Without certainty, most music festivals and live events will be cancelled this Summer with countless job losses and business closures. If ministers do step up and do what is required, we can save jobs, protect £1.1bn of costs and unleash £9bn of economic activity, give confidence to event organisers, turbocharge Britain’s economic recovery and bring hope to millions of festival-goers and young people who now need it so desperately.
Governments in Germany, Austria, Norway and the Netherlands have all come up with their own schemes to back their festival industries. It makes little sense to have a world-beating vaccination rollout led by the NHS here in the UK, a roadmap out of lockdown and the promise of freedom, but then a refusal to back up that promise by underwriting the industry by £250m. This simply condemns this Summer’s festivals to cancellation.
After 13 months of misery, Britain’s young people need something to look forward to this Summer. It’s time for the Government to step in, to realise that this important industry is key to the promise that it made to the British people to bring back normality after the 21st June, and to make life here in Britain worth living again.”
But as always Boris and Priti did nothing about these MPs concerns around festival cancellations and many of our beloved festivals have been cancelled until next year (and even next year they could be cancelled in the same underhand way if these conservatives have anything to do with it).
We need to keep an eye on this and not allow it to continue.
Sorry to rant but this whole situation is very concerning to us free spirited souls.
I repeat: If this continues next year we must not lie down and take it; we must fight!!