We must have safer festivals in bid to avoid more tragedy

IT is the headline that had to be written. '˜Tougher licensing laws may be brought in for county's big festivals' is our page 9 lead story headline today.

In the wake of last month’s tragedy at Mutiny Festival in Cosham, things were never going to be the same again.

Just three weeks ago today, Tommy Cowan, 20, and 18-year-old Georgia Jones died after falling ill at King George V playing fields in Cosham.

Now, everyone with a vested interest in these sort of events owes it to the family and friends of those youngsters to try and ensure they are never repeated.

To start with, health experts and councillors from around Hampshire have agreed to rethink licensing regulations for festivals.

No-one can seriously believe that is not needed.

Thousands of people enjoy music festivals, not just in this area but all over the country. Though Mutiny’s own future has to be in some doubt, that is no reason to ban other such events.

So, if they’re still going to take place, we need tougher rules and regulations.

Dr Jason Horsley, the director of public health for Portsmouth, speaks a lot of sense.

‘It’s very hard to put on an event like that and not have anybody come to harm. But there are protective measures the council could put in place such as drug testing on site,’ he said. ‘People could bring them in anonymously and we could have amnesty bins so people can discard drugs if they’re not what they thought they were.

‘We need to regulate festivals and make sure they’re safe.’

Indeed we do.

We also need to improve the quality of drug education. It will not be easy – nothing of this scale ever is – but this newspaper repeats what it said earlier ...

... we owe it to the memory of Tommy and Georgia to make sure festivals are safer.