South Central festival in Portsmouth gets given go-ahead by council licensing team – after ‘untenable’ noise level rules are relaxed
UP to 40,000 people will attend South Central Festival this year after councillors loosened rules on noise levels that organisers feared would have them 'walking a tightrope'.
Promoters will have to 'aim to comply' with noise restrictions at the new event rather than face having their licence revoked if they fail to meet them, the same condition that was set for its predecessor Mutiny Festival since 2017.
As was the case with Mutiny, the event should not exceed 90 decibels between 10am and 11pm one metre from any 'noise sensitive premises.'
And between 11pm and midnight it should not go over 66 decibels.
At a licensing meeting today (April 8) committee members agreed to amend the proposed licensing conditions following concerns from organisers that they had come close to exceeding noise limits in the past.
Neil Roberts, from the South Central team, addressed councillors at the meeting. He said: 'Those targets were challenging but we did meet them.
'But meeting those targets was like walking a tightrope. One of the issues is that if they were set as conditions they could be beyond our control and they could see us in breach.
'For example if we have two or three DJs playing at one time we can control that. But if each of their songs is very bass heavy at one time the levels will be too high.
'The levels aren't the issue. It is whether they could become enforceable.
'This could make it untenable.'
When returning their verdict the committee stated that it 'had been a very difficult decision' but that they believed promoters were 'sincere' about the noise levels.
South Central is replacing Mutiny Festival at which two young festival goers lost their lives last year after taking ecstasy tablets.
The new licence also allows for 19,999 to attend the festival in the King George V fields in Cosham each day, up from the 15,000 a day at Mutiny.
But Mr Roberts stipulated that this was a 'new event.'
'We have dropped half the acts we had last year and changed them for new ones,' he said. 'This makes it a very different festival.'
Following the deaths of 18-year-old Georgia Jones and 20-year-old Tommy Cowan last year new safety measures will be implemented at South Central. These include drug amnesty bins, sniffer dogs, a searching policy, drug testing and two on-site ambulances.
Free water will be provided from 54 taps, more than the 21 last year and the entry age has been raised to 18, up from 16.
Member of the committee Councillor Claire Udy commented: 'I am a massive advocate for drug testing at festivals. I think you have to accept that you're going to have people taking drugs at festivals, so if this can make it safer that's good.'
The festival will take place on May 25 and 26.
Last year the council received two noise complaints about Mutiny Festival, and none in years previous to that.