Glastonbury Festival told to improve crowd control for 2023 after 'crushes'

The festival in 2022 was seen as "well planned and managed" but "improvements are necessary".

Glastonbury Festival has been asked to reduce noise and improve crowd control ahead next year's festival.

Mendip District Council is responsible for issuing the licence for the festival and has raised concerns about how well things are being managed.

It comes after festival-goers complained of crowds being "unsafe" while some residents said the noise was the worst they'd ever experienced.

In a report published by the council, it said the 2022 festival was seen as "well planned and managed" but that "improvements are necessary".

Speaking at a council scrutiny meeting on 22 November, Pilton resident Nick Hall said noise levels this year were worst than during previous festivals.

He said: "Loud amplified music continued until 1am on Friday morning. Over the weekend period, there were multiple complaints about noise going on until 4am."

Caroline Griffiths, who also lives in the village, added: "On Wednesday evening going into Thursday at 3am, I was so frustrated that I rang the village helpline.

"The same thing happened on Thursday night – I rang and there was no-one there at all.

"On Saturday night there was very loud bass music. My experience was not a good one – I had a sleepless period and it did affect my work."

The council addressed that more work was needed to "address excessive loudness and low-frequency noise" through monitoring and time restrictions.

It also said work is needed to achieve "improvements to crowd distribution across the site" to prevent crushes and other injuries.

A new strategy was also outlined with the need to control the number of tents and people at campsites to reduce fire risk and prevent "conflict between vehicles and tents".

Sir Paul McCartney performs at Glastonbury 2022.

The festival organisers, Glastonbury Festival Events Ltd are set to provide a response to the criticisms in writing within the next couple of months.

Two representatives from the festival were at the meeting, with a further representative joining via phone. None of them spoke during the meeting or responded to the individual concerns raised.

Concerns raised by residents were shared by several councillors, including regular festival attendee Michael Gay.

He said: "When Arcadia finished performing at the south-east corner, there were crushes.

"There was also a bad crush on Thursday evening when an inappropriate venue was chosen for what’s known as TBAX – that is, people don’t know who’s going to be on.

"In terms of dynamics, it is the worst that I have seen it."

Festival goers camping out on Worthy Farm during Glastonbury 2022.

Councillor Chris Inchley, who chaired the meeting, added: "This year I had constituents contact me about the noise of the festival – even the local MP did the same.

“Talking to people who actually went to the festival, one comment made by many people was about the actual number of people on the site, especially on the Sunday.

"They said they felt rather unsafe with the volume of people."

Councillor Heather Shearer said the festival site was large enough to accommodate all ticket-holders, but more needed to be done to control crowds in particular areas to prevent crushes.

She said: "It is recognised as something that the festival organisers need to be thinking about.

"Because it’s such a massive site, it’s clearly big enough for the people if it goes to the pinnacle of its numbers. The issue is really about crowd dynamics – about the pinch points when they move.

"Every time the festival is run, there are always changes made to the layout, to the number of stages, to the [number of] people who were coming.

"The interest actually wasn’t anticipated that the number of people would go to the various stages at a particular time."

Marietta Gill, the council’s public protection manager, added: “There were definitely issues around the distribution and movement of people.

"Some acts were a lot more popular than was expected, and [organisers] recognise that work needs to be done on that."

Councillor Nick Cottle said the increase in noise could be attributed at least in part to different weather conditions during the festival.

He said: "I live about four miles from the Pyramid Stage. A few years ago I could hear it quite easily on a Sunday evening without problem; now, I can’t hear it at all.

"It’s dependent on weather conditions, wind speed and other things that you’ve got to take into consideration.

"I mean no disrespect to the residents, but the weather conditions control a lot of where the sound goes to."

Glastonbury Festival declined to comment when approached by ITV News.

Credit: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter