‘Lessons to be learned’ from Isle of Wight Festival chaos

MUDBATH Revellers walk through the muddy campsite at the Isle of Wight Festival
MUDBATH Revellers walk through the muddy campsite at the Isle of Wight Festival

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ORGANISERS of the Isle of Wight Festival and police say lessons will be learned from this year’s travel chaos.

Torrential downpours at the start of the annual event at Seaclose Park, Newport, led to gridlock on the roads last Thursday and Friday when festival car parks turned into mudbaths.

As reported, organiser John Giddings apologised after festival-goers were forced to sleep in their cars overnight and ferry firms suspended some services.

Up to 600 people were stranded on ferries on the Solent as the cars could not disembark because of backed-up traffic on the island.

The organisers, working with police, Isle of Wight Council and other agencies say ‘lessons will be learnt’.

Hampshire police drafted in extra officers and 4x4s and local farmers also helped out people leaving the site.

Inspector Paul Savill said: ‘The operation has gone really well. It’s not caused any major traffic hold-ups at all on the island’s roads.

‘We’ve had 4x4s and island farmers have been drafted in to help out as well.

‘There have been extra ferries laid on as normal. It’s been year one of it being like this.

‘We’ve all learnt a lot – us, the council and the organisers.

‘We will take that learning and make sure it’s included in our plans for the next big event, which for us is Bestival.’

He said police officers who would have gone home on Sunday had been asked to stay through until Monday.

‘These are officers who have been away from their families since last Thursday and they have all chipped in,’ he said.

‘There has been a real positive vibe.’

The force had prepared to draft in up to 50 extra officers in addition to up to 120 who were on duty daily during the festival to help people leave. About 20 extra officers – many from roads policing – were needed.

Early indications are that crime and drug seizures are down.

Insp Savill added: ‘This event never creates much disorder anyway, and apparently it’s even lower this year.

‘We had 20,000 people at one point watching the football one day. Anywhere else you could have all sorts of trouble but we had nothing like that.’