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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Festival probed over cancellations
Essential Festival, Bristol
Organisers say posters warned fans of cancellations
The Essential Festival is being investigated by trading standards officers after fans at the Bristol event complained when a string of bands pulled out at late notice.

One of the bands, rock group Reef, have contradicted the organisers' story that performances were cancelled because of safety fears over waterlogged ground.

They say they pulled out because they were not paid a deposit, which all bands get before an appearance.

Organisers have said the changes were made because it was not safe for crowds in waterlogged arenas.

Trading standards officers at Bristol City Council have received complaints from members of the public about the festival, and will look into whether they should order compensation to be paid.

Organisers enter into a contract with those attending concerts when they sell tickets, a council spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

Supergrass headlined the Sunday night
"So if they have not fulfilled their contractual obligations by not having these acts, there is a possibility that [ticket-holders] could be entitled to compensation."

They would look into the organisers' reasons for cancelling the bands, she said.

Reef cast doubt on the reason given by organisers, which was that the ground was unsafe for lively crowds.

"No deposit was paid to the band in advance and that is breach of contract," a spokesman for the band said.

"Through that, [the agent] pulled Reef from the bill."

A statement on the website of another group who did not appear, Therapy?, also cited "contractual difficulties with the promoters".

Reef and Therapy? were due to play on the rock day, the middle of the three-day event, which took place over the bank holiday weekend.


Other bands including Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Asian Dub Foundation, The Coral, One Minute Silence, Hell Is For Heroes and Minuteman were pulled from the rock day, which took place on Sunday.

The number of stages on which acts appeared was cut from six to four on that day.

There was a dance day, a rock day and a roots day
There was a dance day, a rock day and a roots day
Several bands were also removed from the following day's bill, which was dedicated to roots and soul artists.

Disgruntled fans, many of whom paid at least 40 for a day ticket, have set up an online petition and sent e-mails to BBC News Online.

"The ground seemed surprisingly dry to me so I don't believe the excuses about crowd safety," wrote one fan, Jane Shepley.

"My friend went on rock day and was really annoyed about the absence of so many bands."

Some have complained about transport arrangements and acts appearing up to two hours late.


Another fan, Rachel Casey, said: "I'm sure there are many people that, like me, paid that money just to see one or two of the acts. I now know a lot of people who will not be going to Essential any more."

Neil Greenway, editor of website E-Festivals, who went to the event, said he did not come across anybody at the site who was particularly annoyed about the changes.

Those who went to see just one or two bands were being unrealistic because there are often cancellations, he said.

He also said there had been torrential before the event - but that one of the closed stages was at the top of a hill, where the ground did not appear to be wet.

See also:

07 May 02 | Music
Fans demand festival refund
02 May 02 | Music
Music festival hits trouble
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