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MP questions festival's safety

23 September 09 17:21 GMT

An MP is to hold talks with Reading Festival organisers and police after the "disgraceful behaviour" of some festival-goers who set fire to tents.

Martin Salter, MP for Reading West, will meet Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn and officers after big fires were lit on the final night of the event.

His office said "drunken mobs" had been looking for "anything to throw on their bonfires to keep them burning".

Police said they worked in the face of hostility "to restore calm and order".

Mr Salter was contacted by festival fans after the event "who stayed up all night in the campsite guarding their tents and possessions", a spokesperson at his office said.

Mr Salter is questioning the crowd safety and security of the event after seeing the fires, which were recorded and broadcast on YouTube.

He will call for a complete ban on "ad hoc camp fires" at the event.

He said: "I was less than impressed by what appeared to be a somewhat cavalier attitude by the police and the festival organisers to the very many complaints and concerns that were raised by long-standing festival fans following the disgraceful scenes on the Sunday night.

Public disorder

"However I am pleased that finally the authorities now appear to be taking these issues seriously."

Supt Stuart Greenfield, of Thames Valley Police, said: "The last evening of the festival was particularly busy for police and festival security teams in terms of public disorder.

"We worked closely together in the face of some hostility to restore calm and order.

"We take the safety of festival-goers very seriously and early meetings are taking place with partners to review this year's event and to plan our response to the next festival."

Organiser Festival Republic has not responded to Mr Salter's comments.

Mr Salter was chairman of Reading Borough Council leisure committee between 1986 and 1988 and oversaw the return of the Reading Festival after a three-year absence.

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