THE controversial plans for the ticketing of Pride’s street party have been unveiled.
More than 70 people packed into a public meeting at Brighton’s Dorset Gardens Methodist Church on Wednesday night to hear the proposal for the event on August 2.
It will be the first time the after-party, which is held in and around St James’s Street, will be ticketed.
Despite opposition the meeting was told ticketing was essential to prevent another Hillsborough disaster.
Inspector Tony Lumb, from Sussex Police, said last year’s event was “intolerable” and officers were forced to ignore crimes due to the crowds.
David Samuel, from David Samuel Associates, who has been brought in by Pride organisers to plan and manage the event, gave a presentation of the proposal.
The new measures include:
- Crowd barriers erected around the party area.
- The sale of £5 wristband tickets to make the event safer and easier to manage.
- Five roads issued no-go areas to protect residents.
- No glass on site.
- Double the number of security.
Mr Samuel said the street party area would be larger than usual with the ticketed zone stretching from the north side of Marine Parade up onto roads north of St James’s Street. To the west it would stretch to the bottom of St James’s Street before the Old Steine – taking in the bottom of George Street. Steine Street would be one of the designated residential no-go areas. To the east the ticketed area would go to, but not include, Upper Rock Gardens. Rock Place would be included as well as the bottom of St James’s Avenue.
Paul Kemp, Pride director, explained temporary crowd barriers would be used with security on each road. Police officers would also be stationed at each entrance.
He said: “I want to make it absolutely clear, Pride is not making money from this. Pride is two people, we are not some big money grabbing organisation, I work for less than the minimum wage.
“It will cost just £5 for the wristband – £2 for Saturday, £2 for Sunday and £1 will go to charity.
“The money from the wristbands will go towards covering the infrastructure costs. If we make anything extra it will go to charity or towards next year’s event.”
He added: “We just want a safe event for people who come from all over the UK and Europe.”
The meeting was told five streets would be made no-go areas to protect residents from anti-social behaviour, which has previously included defecating in front drives, verbal abuse and partygoers having sex in gardens. The designated roads will be Margaret Street, Charles Street, Steine Street, Prince Street and Wentworth Street.
No alcohol will be allowed to be brought into the area.
Bars, pubs and restaurants, which make tens of thousands of pounds from Pride each year, will be made to put between £500 to £1,000 towards the event. The precise amount will depend on the size of the business.
Speaking at the meeting Inspector Tony Lumb described last year’s event as “unsafe”. He said: “This is something of a confession, but we couldn’t effectively police it. We didn’t have control of the street.
“We were ignoring criminality, not through want or desire or lack of resources but because we couldn’t get to people and places.”
He added: “The sheer number of people and the sheer amount of glass made it dangerous.
“We can’t have a repeat.”
In response to his concerns a dedicated emergency services route is planned to be introduced to allow easy access for fire, police and ambulance services.
Two of the three local ward councillors, Geoffrey Bowden and Stephanie Powell, were also at the meeting. Both pledged their support to the proposed ticketing scheme with Coun Bowden describing it as a “last chance saloon” situation.
He said: “For too long residents have had to put up with unacceptable conditions and anti-social behaviour. Excessive alcohol has also became a problem as well as the crowding. This is an opportunity for us to control the numbers with an increased footprint – all for just £2 a day for Pridegoers.”
Coun Powell said she was unsure about when they first ticketed the Preston Park event but admitted it was “the best thing they could have done”. She said: “It was only a matter of time before it happened here. You can’t squeeze that amount of people into an area like this and not expect another Hillsborough. It has to happen.”
Residents, business owners and Pride punters raised a number of issues at the two hour 40 minute meeting. Questions included how organisers would ensure the event remains open to those on low incomes, how would police reduce anti-social behaviour and why should party goers have to pay at all?
Perhaps the most contentious issue was that of the resident’s wristband. While those who live in the party area would be given free wristbands for access they were told they must buy a punter’s wristband if they wish to buy alcohol from the local supermarkets, pubs, bars and clubs.
Following feedback from the meeting Mr Kemp said they would be providing residents with discounted wristbands – although the price has not yet been decided.
David Spafford, from St James’s Community Action Group, asked a number of questions at the meeting.
Speaking afterwards he said: “I have always felt Pride should be free to all but at £5 the after-party will be within everyone’s budget.
“The result will be a much more enjoyable event for all those attending and much less of an imposition on the local residents.”
David Hainsworth from the Kingscliffe Society, who was also at the meeting, said the plans looked “solid”. He said: “I have been back and spoken to some of our members and they – like I – think this is the first positive plan for the event in a number of years.
“They have been upfront about the plans and are consulting which is positive. This is the first year so they are probably not going to get everything right. But it is a start.”
PRIDE ORGANISERS PUT THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON TICKETING
Pride organisers have come under fire for ticketing the street party for the first time.
They used Wednesday’s meeting as a chance to put the record straight on a number of matters. Here are some of the main points and issues raised: Is this the privatisation of Pride and a way for organisers to make more money?
Paul Kemp gave a passionate speech at the meeting in an attempt to clear up the issue.
He told those present that with Pride being a community interest group, they make no money.
Whatever money they raise goes towards covering their costs with the rest given to their charity, The Rainbow Fund.
He said: “The money from the wristbands will go towards covering the infrastructure costs. If we make anything extra it will go to charity or towards next year’s event.”
The new ticketing system will hurt low income Pride goers. What are you going to do?
Pride bosses, police and councillors all told the meeting the ticketing move was essential to ensure the future of the event.
In a perfect world, Pride bosses said there would be no charge. But Mr Kemp said it was necessary to cover the cost of the infrastructure.
He added that anyone wanting to volunteer either at the event or in the build up would get a free wristband. Volunteers would only be required to help out for two hours minimum.
Why could Pride not be held on Madeira Drive?
Coun Geoffrey Bowden addressed the meeting on the issue. He told how emergency services had advised the move was not safe.
Given the combination of pebbles, the nearby sea and likely heavy drink and drug use, the council had been told it was not safe.
Others at the meeting also spoke of the significance of the St James’s Street area to the LGBT community and the desire to keep the street party there.
The punters are having to pay for the event rather than the big supermarkets, pubs and bars who make thousands.
Pride organisers and councillors spoke of their pride at the event being community focused. As such, they said, everyone should contribute towards it.
David Samuel said each pub, bar and restaurant would have to pay between £500 and £1,000 (depending on their size) to serve alcohol in the party area.
Mr Kemp also said they would be approaching the three big supermarkets in the area - Morrisons, Co-op and Tesco – and asking them to contribute towards the new infrastructure costs which will enable the event to continue.
The responses from the supermarkets will be published in The Argus in due course.