The organiser of a north-east charity music festival has hit out at council chiefs who threatened to call it off just four days before the event is held.
Square in the Park will take place at Castle Fraser, near Inverurie, on Saturday – but Aberdeenshire Council was up until yesterday lunchtime recommending it be called off.
However, just hours before a showdown public meeting was to take place, the council did a U-turn and said it would grant permission for the event.
The one-day festival of fun will showcase bands from across the region, with the headline act Liveplay, a Coldplay tribute band, with a crowd of up to 2,150 revellers expected.
Money from the festival, organised by Steve Macdonald, of The Square in Kintore, will go towards CLAN, to support people affected by cancer, and Brothers in Arms, a men’s mental health organisation.
Under licensing laws, the council can refuse to grant a licence under several categories, including if in their opinion the applicant is not a fit and proper person to be the holder of the licence.
The council said consultees, such as emergency services, had expressed concern that they originally had not received enough information about the event, such as the size of the stage and the planned firework display, from organisers.
A council report said, in light of this, its legal officers “are not satisfied whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a licence” though the report did not go on to say why this was the council’s view. Mr Macdonald said the view was ridiculous.
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Written by a council officer, the report recommended Garioch area committee refuse the event a public entertainment licence at its meeting today.
But a letter Mr Macdonald received yesterday lunchtime from the council said: “I am happy to say all the statutory consultees are now happy with the event and have withdrawn their representations.
“Therefore, please be advised the hearing is cancelled and you no longer require to attend. I will be issuing the licence this week.”
Mr Macdonald said: “When we approached the council in May with the idea of holding an event to help a cancer charity and to raise awareness of mental health, we expected them to get fully behind it, but the experience has been nothing of the sort.
“We have provided them with a lot of detail about what we plan to do and all the safety considerations we have put in place, but the sorts of things the council have asked us for were over the top – and their demands were growing arms and legs as time went on.
“To speculate about whether I am a fit and proper person to organise this event in a public report is ridiculous.
“We’re pleased to have overcome this issue and are looking forward to a great day.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokeswoman said: “We have made every effort to support the licensee with this application.
“We must ensure any large-scale event has the support of consultees – including the police, fire and ambulance services – to ensure it is safe for participants to enjoy.
“In this case, a number of concerns were raised by our consultees. If these objections had not been resolved, a decision on whether or not to grant the licence would have had to be made by committee.
“Details of the procedures, timescales and forms applicants are required to follow are available on our website, and our licensing team is on hand to walk applicants through any questions or queries they may have.”