Entertainment

Leeds Festival delays plans to provide drug testing facilities for revellers

A number of festivals have introduced the scheme.

Leeds Festival has delayed plans to provide drug testing facilities at this year’s event after the scheme failed to receive “sufficient support” from the city council, the organiser has said.

The August bank holiday event, run by Festival Republic, was among a number of festivals aiming to introduce the testing of illegal drugs for attendees.

Despite the scheme being implemented at a number of independent events including Kendall Calling, Parklife and Secret Garden Party, managing director of Festival Republic Melvin Benn told the Press Association he had not received “sufficient support from Leeds City Council” to put it in place at the 75,000 capacity event this year.

Electric Picnic festival 2016
Melvin Benn (Niall Carson/PA)

He said: “They felt the testing wasn’t up to the standard that they wanted it to be. They are not closed to the idea and we’ll revisit with them in the future and I hope that I’ll be able to bring it forward but I’m not ready to bring it forward yet.”

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said no formal application had been made by organisers but a discussion had taken place between Festival Republic and a group that advises on safety at public events comprising of the council, police and third sector agencies.

He said a “wide range of views” on the idea had been heard adding: “This is not a decision making body, and Festival Republic said they would take into account what had been said before deciding on whether to submit a formal application.

“A decision was subsequently taken by Festival Republic to not move ahead with the plan.”

Leeds Festival 2016
Festival-goers at Leeds Festival at Bramham Park, West Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA)

“The group did resolve to revisit the issue taking into account possible consultation in plenty of time for next year,” the spokesman added.

Mr Benn told the Press Association “without adequate testing people don’t know what they are buying”.

He added: “They aren’t going to stop buying it because the testing isn’t there, the testing will just mean that they know what they’ve got.”

The scheme, run by drugs safety charity The Loop, allows festival-goers to take their drugs to a testing tent. They are then told what is in the drugs before The Loop destroys whatever was handed over.

Earlier this year the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said testing facilities should be “standard” at festivals so revellers can test the strength and content of drugs they are considering taking.

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