Leave cars on the mainland - Isle of Wight Festival organiser’s plea

MUDDY The campsite at the Isle of Wight festival.

MUDDY The campsite at the Isle of Wight festival.

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Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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A NEW car park has been opened by the organisers of the Isle of Wight Festival in a bid to clear the backlog of vehicles heading to the event.

But organisers have called on those heading to the event to leave their cars on the mainland.

WE'VE ARRIVED From left: Joe Hornby-Patterson, Rachel Neill, Rachael Walker, Mary Hornby-Patterson, Grace Bedford, Ellie Saunders.

WE'VE ARRIVED From left: Joe Hornby-Patterson, Rachel Neill, Rachael Walker, Mary Hornby-Patterson, Grace Bedford, Ellie Saunders.

Revellers heading to the three day festival have been requested to arrive on the island as foot passengers to ease the traffic chaos which has blighted those trying up.

A statement issued on the events Facebook page said: ‘If you are on the mainland we are advising people not to travel by car. There is a ferry service for foot passengers and this will be the easiest route. We are sorry for any disruptions caused.’

The request to travel on foot was made after hundreds of people were forced to sleep in their cars after traffic became gridlocked when the Isle of Wight Festival site turned into a mudbath caused by heavy rains.

Today Wightlink services from Portsmouth and Lymington to the island had resumed as normal.

Organisers have now secured alternative parking arrangements off site. Drivers are asked to follow directions from the police to Robin Hill to park their cars. A shuttle bus service will operate to the festival site.

Health and safety fears have led to the main music arenas remaining closed until 4pm this afternoon, which has drawn a mixture of frustration and sympathy from revellers.

Yesterday’s congestion was so bad, one group got stuck in their car for nine and a half hours - before giving up and turning back.

Royal Navy sailor Keiryn Moffit, 34, who was until recently based in Gosport, said he and his colleague Eddie Dunn had left their wives at a friend’s house in Newport and headed off to pitch their tents.

‘We spent more than nine hours in a three mile stretch if road,’ he said.

‘It was a car park. At midnight we heard on the radio that they had closed the entrance to the real car park so we gave up and went back to Newport.’

Mr Dunn, 38, also a sailor previously based in Gosport, said: ‘They should have made contingency plans for something like this happening.

‘You can’t just rely on everything being fine, especially in Britain and when the forecast was so bad. It was very shortsighted of the organisers.’

His wife Liane, 38, added: And this is our first ever festival. It’s not exactly made a good first impression.’

Lucy Wright, 40, from East Witterings, said she arrived this morning expecting long delays but had found the way in clear and straightforward.

‘I had a sleepless night for nothing,’ she said. ‘We left on the Cat at 7.40am and were here by 9.30am.

‘I think closing the main areas is sensible if it stops them becoming muddy swamps like parts of the campsite.’

But Jim Mullen, 31, from Newbury, disagreed and said: ‘It’s never been like this in previous years.

‘I think they could have organised things much better to stop this from happening.

‘A lot of people are very disappointed.’

He also reported people stealing from tents in the night in his campsite.

‘Someone opened our flap and then ran off when they saw it was occupied,’ he said.

As a result of yesterday’s problems Hampshire’s chief constable Alex Marshall has sent officers from his road’s policing unit as well tasking officers from Portsmouth and Southsea to the city’s Isle of Wight ferry terminal to ease journeys to and from the island.

He said: ‘I am committing extra resources to [the] Island and Portsmouth as necessary to help those who are stuck. [I’m] grateful for patience being shown.’

Heavy rain fell on Thursday, water-logging the event car parks at Seaclose Park, Newport, so that that they became churned up with mud as cars began to arrive, leading to the car parks becoming inaccessible and long queues forming, stretching back to the port towns of Ryde and Cowes.

Queues caused by the gridlock forced the suspension of some ferry services last night.

About 600 people were temporarily kept on ferries in the Solent because of gridlock on the island, which had been caused by difficulties getting in to boggy car parks.

Last night Southsea Common was used as a temporary car park as hundreds of people were stranded in Portsmouth waiting for ferry services to resume.

More than 50,000 people are travelling to the festival which is being headlined by Pearl Jam, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

News reporter Joe Nimmo, who headed over yesterday, said: ‘We were on one of the buses from the ferry to the site, but it didn’t go anywhere for 45 minutes so we all got off and walked.

‘We must have walked for about four or five miles - we were exhausted by the time we got there and then we had to pitch our tent. It wasn’t the greatest start.’

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We organised cars onto the Common as a temporary car park and around Clarence Pier.

‘We made sure that the public toilets were kept open 24 hours a day so people didn’t suffer in that respect.

‘We wanted to make sure that people didn’t have quite such a terrible time and we have had some really positive feedback and thanks from the people.

‘We will be doing the same again today in case this happens again tonight.’

Cindy Jones, Portsmouth City Council’s civil contingencies manager added: ‘We’re working with the police and Wightlink to help ease the impact of any delays.

‘It’s probably not much fun being delayed so we’ve tried to make it bearable. It’s also extremely important residents and other visitors aren’t affected, but fortunately we’ve had no problems with congestion.

‘Arrangements are in place if further delays occur.’

However Mary Hornby-Patterson, 52, from Wickham, said her family’s trip over this morning had been surprising easy, but then reaching their campsite had been an ordeal.

She said: ‘It took an hour to walk through the mud from where the car is parked.

‘It was a nightmare. I couldn’t believe how bad it was. and you couldn’t put anything down even for a second.’

Earlier the Isle of Wight Festival organiser issued an apology for travel chaos for the problems caused by traffic not being able to get on to the site.

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