WELFARE of festivalgoers needs to be more of a priority and not just and after-thought, the head of a national drugs-testing charity has said.
Fiona Measham, a director at The Loop, has spoken out following the tragedy at Portsmouth’s Mutiny Festival after two people died on Saturday.
Mrs Measham said she was inundated with complaints from worried partygoers over the weekend over a lack of free drinking water at the music event.
Many, she said, claimed a majority of the 21 taps across the site were no longer working by 4pm – little more than three hours before Georgia Jones, 18, and Tommy Cowan, 20, collapsed and died.
Festival organisers have denied there was a problem with access to water.
‘One of the key points that came up again and again was that by 4pm water was coming out slowly out of the water standpipes and that the queues were getting longer,’ Ms Measham told The News.
‘There were queues of up to 50 people at one point because the water was just dribbling out. Bars were selling water for £2.50 or £3.
‘Some people were leaving the site because they were so dehydrated.’
Festival organisers today said that there was plenty of water available at various parts of the site.
However, Mrs Measham said more could have been done and claimed the weekend’s tragedy needs to be a stark reminder to all festival bosses.
‘We need to be looking after customers better and not treating them like cattle,’ she said. ‘Festivals spend so much on paying for top acts to attend their events – why can’t more be spent on the welfare of the customers?
‘I work in festivals and it can be quite an unpleasant and uncomfortable.’
The comments come amid claims drugs like ecstasy and cannabis were being taken during the festival.
Appalled partygoers have said they found drug paraphernalia in toilets at Mutiny.
They have questioned how illegal drugs got into the venue, which had 175 security and crowd management staff.
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, said the situation was distressing.
In a stark warning, she said: ‘With the prevalence of drugs, people can become reassured that doing so is safe, but it never is.
‘You cannot know what you are taking and how it will affect you.
‘Whatever the lessons from last weekends tragedy they must be learnt.’
Police have so far arrested five people as part of a major drugs probe.
The latest, a 21-year-old woman from Waterlooville and 21-year-old from Havant have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs
Three people – a 20-year-old man from Havant, 20-year-old man from Waterlooville and 22-year-old man from Cosham – who were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs have been released from custody but remain under investigation.