Hundreds oppose weekend music festival which could bring around 5,000 people to Newent

Residents are concerned about the safety of the event. Credit: Carmelo Garcia

More than 250 people have signed a petition opposing plans for a music festival which could bring nearly 5,000 people to a small market town.

Onion in the Wood is set to go ahead at Newent Arboretum, in Gloucestershire in September 2024.

Last week, Forest of Dean District Council granted Newent Onion Fayre Committee a premises licence for the Bradfords Lane site meaning music can be played and alcohol can be sold over the festival weekend.

Residents who live near the site say it is not suitable for such a large event, but the organisers have insisted it will be "a very responsible and safe event."

Forest of Dean Council granted a premises licence for the site last week. Credit: Carmelo Garcia

Tickets for the event, which is a modern version of the internationally renowned Onion Fayre, are expected to be around £50 to £75.

Organisers have said they hope to attract around 4,800 people to the festival.

The festival will include camping facilities for visitors and staff in the fields next to the arboretum along with parking for caravans and motorhomes.

Gareth Bradbury, who organised the petition, said he is not against the idea of the festival but believes the site is "unsuitable" and has concerns over the safety of the event.

"The noise, influx of people and alcohol consumption associated with such an event are not only disruptive but also detrimental to the tranquillity and ecological balance of this green space,” he said in the petition.

He added: "This petition aims not only at preserving peace within our community but also at safeguarding our environment and residents from unnecessary harm.

"The noise, disruption, increased risk of crime and disorder makes this event wholly unsuitable to this venue."

Barrie Wellington, a resident of Bradfords Lane, and a former director of the company which owned the arboretum field said he and many others weren't consulted about the plans.

“We weren’t consulted by the town council or anyone else. We all feel we’ve been subjected to shock treatment," he said.

“They are talking about thousands of people. You’ve only got three acres of open land to have all these people on."

Another resident, Paul Johnson, said the event would not be viable and said the depth of feeling in town over safety concerns will likely end up becoming a “militant action”.

Organisers say they hope to attract around 4,800 people to the Bradfords Lane site. Credit: Carmelo Garcia

“People will stop it. It’s that strong a feeling,” he said.

The event is proposed to take place from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September 2024, with live music and alcohol sales until late at night.

Newent Onion Fayre Committee chairman Andy Offord responded to concerns, saying the plans are for “a weekend of family-friendly music, food and entertainment all located in a magical woodland setting.”

He ruled out any “thumping DJ sets” and said the music would mainly be of genres popular with families.

“We will be looking at wandering minstrels, performers, Morris men and hopefully the very popular belly dancers that we used to have at the Onion Fayre which were always fun,” he said.

Paul O'Neill, who is organising the new event, said the plan has been well thought out and prepared over months and it’s about keeping the Onion Fayre alive but also bringing it into modern times.

He said profits from the new event would go to local charities and the use of the land has been provided to them free of charge.

Newent Town Council has not responded to a request for comment.

Credit: Carmelo Garcia / LDRS