But Lib Dem leader says Wendy Simon should quit

AN independent report into the failed Hope and Glory Festival in Liverpool’s William Brown Street today blamed the event organisers for its collapse.
The report, commissioned by Mayor Joe Anderson, found that organisers tinyCOW were responsible for the failure of the event on the weekend of the 5/6 August which led to long queues and problems on the first day and the second day being scrapped altogether.

Mayor Anderson  said if the company hadn’t gone into liquidation he would have asked Merseyside Police to investigate the financial liabilities of the Hope and Glory Festivals Ltd. 

“As far as I’m concerned, they (the organisers) have a moral obligation to reimburse disappointed ticket-holders who are out of pocket and I will be making this point to the liquidators.”

The Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Richard Kemp accused Liverpool’s Labour leaders of passing the buck and called on culture cabinet member Wendy Simon to resign

The investigation into what went wrong was carried out by The Event Safety Shop, which, the council says, is made up of some of the country’s leading health and safety experts.

They described the event management plan as “not being fit for purpose” and found that the site build was delayed due to a lack of direction and communication by the company.

The authors of the report praised the actions of council officers who stepped in when things began to go wrong and made sure it was able to go ahead safely on the first day before being cancelled by organiser Lee O’Hanlon on the second day.

They recommended that the Joint Agency Group (JAG) and Safety Advisory Group (SAG) - which includes the emergency services, public transport bodies, the city council and the NHS - are more involved in examining event plans and documentation in future.  

It also concluded that background screening checks into tinyCOW, through professional bodies or trade associations, would not have stopped their application from being progressed.

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “We can’t accept anything that jeopardises our hard-won reputation. This is why I commissioned an independent report to spell out exactly why this privately organised event failed, and look at what the public sector could do to mitigate this happening again.
“It’s clear in retrospect that the failure of the event was down to the mismanagement of the organisers and our staff did tremendous work on the first day sorting out a wide range of issues and enabling the event to continue.
“This report was all about learning lessons, and although our procedures have served us well for the past ten years, the context and environment for staging events has changed in recent years, so we need to be honest with ourselves and reflect on the processes and procedures that are in place and react to the recommendations put forward.
“As a result of this report, we will work with our partners to put in place enhanced planning procedures for event which will find the right balance between scrutinising documents and not making the process too bureaucratic for organisers.

But Cllr Kemp said in a statement: “The shambolic behaviour of Liverpool Council to the running of the Hope & Glory Festival has been rightly exposed by the report produced yesterday. But once again the responsibility has been left with officers of the council rather than the politicians who appoint and should oversee them. It is the politicians who carry the final responsibility. They appoint the staff; establish the structures and systems and should be part of any decision-making process in times of difficulty. 

“The only thing in the report which is clearly wrong is the suggestion that the council could not have foreseen what would happen. Not only were there a number of signals passed at red but the main promoter of the festival had a string of failed events behind him.

 “The cabinet member responsible for this should consider their culpability in this matter and follow the time honoured democratic route and resign.”