A RESIDENT local to Sherdley Park voiced his concerns to the organisers of Reminisce Festival during a St Helens Council meeting last week.

Following the controversy of last year's festival, the organisers spoke about what they are doing to improve aspects of the event at a Licensing Sub-Committee meeting on Friday, July 15.

Seeking permission to bring the festival back to Sherdley Park this September, organisers Gary Laycock and Tim Herring addressed each of the main issues raised by residents and festival-goers.

After the festival has grown from 3,000 visitors in its early days to crowds of 19,000, Lawrence Jones raised his concerns to the organisers and councillors present at the meeting.

READ > Reminisce organisers address concerns as they seek event licence at St Helens Council meeting

St Helens Star: Mr Jones highlighted concerns about Reminisce FestivalMr Jones highlighted concerns about Reminisce Festival

Resident's complaints:

Mr Jones, a born-and-bred "Sintellener" and resident of Sherdley Park for more than 23 years, said that there were "real, inherent problems" at last year's festival.

The occupational health and safety professional said that the allegations of "overcrowding" and "people being crushed towards the front" of the stage are "very serious safety issues" which need to be taken seriously by councillors and organisers.

He also referenced allegations of bouncers being "aggressive" to each other and customers "crawling under tents" to get out of the stage.

Mr Jones conceded that there were no serious injuries as a result of the alleged crushing incidents, but suggested that a reduced cut-off point from the sale of alcohol (from 11pm to 10pm) would mitigate any alcohol-influenced behaviour as well as concerns of other festival-goers.

St Helens Star: Reminisce has grown from 3,000 visitors in 2014 to crowds of 19,000 last yearReminisce has grown from 3,000 visitors in 2014 to crowds of 19,000 last year

Mr Jones also said that he felt the communication between residents, the council, and staff at Reminisce needed to be improved, with residents unsure who to contact to raise concerns during and after the festival.

Other complaints which were read out stated that the festival created an "unacceptable level of noise" for local residents, as well as the amount of litter which was left behind following the event, which teams of volunteers helped to clean up.

Closing his statement, Mr Jones said: "I would like the licensing committee to consider last year's event and to try, through the powers you have got, to put as much mitigation as you can to make sure the event is controlled, especially towards the latter end.

"And so that the residents of the area suffer as little impact as possible."

What the Council and organisers said:

St Helens Star: Tim HerringTim Herring

In response to the allegations raised by Mr Jones, the Principal Solicitor at St Helens Council, stated that a Merseyside Police report confirmed that "there were no crushing incidents or injuries reported related to crushing".

The organisers similarly clarified that there were "no major incidents or serious injuries reported" and that the "majority of customers had a wonderful time, despite the issues that we faced."

However, Mr Herring and Mr Laycock did confirm that after issues with security, the festival has replaced its security firm with CSS.

The pair addressed further concerns highlighted such as internet problems, litter and parking, and said they are "confident" that these issues won't repeat themselves.

St Helens Star: Gary LaycockGary Laycock

Closing off his statement, Mr Laycock said: "We understand there are concerns from residents and understand that there is a community around Sherdley Park.

"Even though we are only there for one day, this will encroach on what is effectively a quiet and relaxing, environment.

"We don't take the gift of the park lightly and we believe that with the event plan, action plan, and thorough discussions that we enter into [...] we provide a safe environment [...] that is enjoyed by the people of St Helens and that brings a lot of money into St Helens.

"We accept there is some disruption and will do our very best to minimise this.

"We are not disguising that the event encountered issues last year [...] but I think we have demonstrated since 2014 that the event has been safe, enjoyable, and well managed."