PRIDE bosses have laid the blame for the chaos that saw Pridegoers sleeping in an emergency shelter and the beach squarely at rail services. 

A Pride spokesman said: "At the conclusion to the Saturday Brighton & Hove Pride Festival there was a successful and safe egress from the Park in less than 30 minutes. However, on one of the hottest Saturdays of the year, many Pride-goers and visitors to the City were unable to get home to London and other destinations, due to insufficient train services.

"We are very disappointed that GTR were unable to provide sufficient services to people returning home from a day of celebrating Pride and enjoying the hot weather in Brighton & Hove. This is particularly concerning, given the months of planning and inter-agency working that we undertake each year to make Brighton Pride a safe and happy event.

"We were appalled to see that Pride-goers were standing for long periods of time, at the end of the event, while waiting to access Brighton Station, and with almost no information provided by GTR. People’s safety was put in jeopardy by GTR and the station’s failure to plan for adequate train services.

"We successfully and safely cleared the event site at the Park in less than 30 minutes, with roads around the park clear and open again in under an hour. We thank everyone who attended the Pride Festival at the park for the way in which they left the area calmly and peacefully.

"We work closely with statutory partners throughout the year, in particular, with Brighton & Hove Council and the emergency services, to produce detailed plans for the event. We want to thank them for their proactive approach, including Brighton & Hove Council’s activation of their emergency planning process, to provide a safe space in the Brighton Centre in the early hours of Sunday morning."

Paul Kemp, Managing Director, Brighton & Hove Pride CIC said:

“Brighton and Hove is an Event City – renowned for its world-class events, from Brighton International Festival to Brighton & Hove Pride – providing a significant benefit to the whole economy of the City. The railway is the lifeblood of the City with businesses and visitors relying on this essential service. It is disappointing that there have been several occasions of station closures at crucial high volume times over the last few years, including the first weekend of Brighton Festival last year, which coincided with the May Bank Holiday and very hot weather.

"We have consistently called for even closer collaboration with a city-wide approach to planning for major events, with involvement of businesses and transport partners to ensure smooth operations and collective responsibility for all who play their part in the City economy.

"Lessons need to be learned clearly. We are keen, as always, to work with GTR to improve the City and service-wide approach to major events that benefit Brighton and Hove and the UK and our city’s economy. Such an approach is vital in ensuring Brighton and Hove’s continuing success as a major tourist destination and Event City."

When it became clear yesterday morning that attendance at Pride was far higher than had been forecast by the organisers, Southern put on extra trains through the afternoon and evening, boosting capacity by 22,500. Staff encouraged people to leave early to avoid crowding for the last train.

A Govia Thameslink spokesperson said: "We ran 15 extra trains yesterday in addition to the plan agreed with the event organisers to cope with the unprecedented visitor numbers. The police closed access to Brighton station for a period to manage crowding in the town, after which our extra trains helped clear the station steadily. We are talking to the organisers and police about whether we need to enhance today's timetable with extra capacity."

"Unfortunately many people - especially those attending the concert - did wait until very late to start leaving, and we operated our crowd control procedures during the late evening. This included closing the gates for short periods while people boarded trains, and then reopening to allow more people in. The British Transport Police closed the station from 11.40pm for about 40 minutes and asked us to suspend train services temporarily to help them control crowding outside in the street. We ran further extra trains after reopening the station, which then cleared steadily, with the last extra train leaving at 3.00am. Most passengers had boarded trains and left the station by 1.30am.

"We are accepting tickets today that were unused yesterday; we will again be encouraging people to leave as early as possible to avoid crowding for the last trains, and are ready to run extra trains again if necessary."