Agenda item

Public Question Time

The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.

For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.

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Public questions were received from two members of the public.

Carolyn Griffiths:

1. There are clear cases of planning approval breaches in my community; and there is evidence of inconsistent standards being applied . In one case it was so called reviewed but not with the level of internal independence as is required by your own procedures. In another I was told that a breach that was detrimental to a neighbor would not be followed up because it only affects one other property. If this is the standard applied by the Council then theoretically it means we can all do whatever we want provided it only affects one other household . Clearly this would utterly  undermine any planning controls

Evidence suggests the Ombudsman  is inadequately resourced to engage properly to understand referrals. And to pursue further would likely require litigation. 

The whole point of planning is that there are rules that should be complied with and we expect the Council to require compliance. This is clearly not happening 
I ask the Council to carry out an independently led review of its planning compliance activity to  include evaluation of  consistent application of its enforcement criteria, adequacy of its own standards and  criteria for enforcement ,  its adherence  (and oversight of adherence)  to its own standards and whether allocation of resources  are reasonable to maintain the communities' compliance. This should include but clearly not be limited to the case histories which I will willingly provide. Can the Council confirm this undertaking to a review please or if not what other measure it intends to take to rectify this unsatisfactory situation?

2. I note that the Council has reported changes in the noise management of Glastonbury Festival. However despite this, yet again during the 2023 festival there was unacceptable noise in the so called curfew period experienced in the community. 

Please can the Council help us how this will be prevented by your monitoring and enforcement during 2024?

3. During the 2023 festival there was unacceptable amounts of traffic through the heart of the village going to the so-called village car park. The reality is that this car park is not a village car park. If it was, its usage would be far more modest.The car park's capacity ( estimated between 1200 and 1800) is far in excess of that required even if every village household drove to the festival. The license management plan is clearly not controlling the nuisance of traffic in the community. 

Why is the management plan not mandating that all vehicles  ( except for those of  Pilton residents whose parking is displaced by the freeways and Pilton villagers who can ot reasonably walk to the feastival) park in locations that do not require access through the village?   

4. We have also been given to believe that households are denied the possibility of parking outside their own homes for the duration of the festival because of access for emergency vehicles. Yet emergency vehicles are expected to navigate the same streets all other weeks of the year and there are  other specifically designated emergency access routes to the festival . This brings the reason for clearing these roads into question. 

Can the Council confirm why these householders are denied the possibility of parking near their homes. Is it  connected with the GFEL specifically routing large amounts of traffic through the village when there are alternatives available to them that would avoid this?  Why is the management plan not mandating that the imposition of freeways in the village should be avoided unless it's for the benefit of the village?

The response:

The first question is outside the scope of this committee and report.

For questions three and four there was a response from Bev Norman, Head of Service – Traffic Management, Road Safety, and Parking:

Three: That is what is already in place. People parking in the village are residents, or guests of residents. People outside the village/Parish are parking elsewhere. Note that residents with guests who have no parking near their property will often park cars in the green car park for the week.

Four: All clearways have been implemented at the request of the village representatives of the Parish Council. Some - Cum Hill, Bread St, Pylle Rd have been in place since the early 2000’s. Top St more recently in 2022 both as a result of community engagement and planning.

A detailed response from Highways will be provided in writing at a later date.

Nick Hall

Good morning – my name is Nick Hall. I am a Pilton Parish Councillor. Today, I am speaking in a personal capacity but reflecting the views of some members of our community.

What I wish to talk about today is the effective regulation of Glastonbury Festival.

Please note that I only had sight of the Council’s nineteen-page de-brief report yesterday (6 Dec) – it is unrealistic for me to prepare a full set of questions in such a limited time.

Following the Planning approval earlier this year, Glastonbury Festival Events Limited (GFEL) now has Planning and Licensing in place, in perpetuity. This provides certainty for the company but also reduces the opportunity for regulators, such as Somerset Council, to hold them to account.

Our community is impacted by a number of aspects of the Festival (and not only during the three main days of the event) - most notable are security, noise nuisance, traffic through the parish and environmental impact.

We rely on the goodwill of GFEL, and enforcement of Planning and Licensing conditions to ensure that the impacts on our community are avoided, or at least minimised.

Somerset Council has inherited the regulation of the Festival from Mendip District Council (MDC). MDC were aware of the communities’ concerns but seemed unable to put in place significant improvements.

The de-brief report highlights the ongoing issue of noise nuisance. It is disappointing how little progress is being made. MDC Cabinet have already been presented with the problems namely:

·       Problems with the License itself including the lack of limits on low frequency noise (dBC limits).

·       The need for a more robust approach to monitoring

·       Reporting of noise complaints to be more transparent.

There are also the unregulated external (or offsite) campsites described in section 4.4 of the debrief report. I welcome the report’s conclusion that additional Council resources are required to prevent nuisances to our community from these activities.  The Committee should be aware that in many cases these are no longer campsites but large-scale events with entertainment, alcohol sales etc. In my opinion they are not all “organised independently” of the Festival because it is reported that GFEL guarantees tickets to some operators. What is Somerset Council going to do to address this ongoing matter?

The de-brief report specifically excludes the work undertaken by Highways in respect of Glastonbury Festival. There is little consultation about closure of public roads.  How is the work of Somerset Highways monitored if not here?

Section 1.2 refers to “A Flourishing and Resilient Somerset” from the Council Plan. Our community might also be as interested in:

  • A Healthy and Caring Somerset,
  • A Fairer, Ambitious Somerset, and
  • A Greener, More Sustainable Somerset

There is increasing concern that variations to the Event Management Plan (EMP) are in fact minor License variations. Moreover, changes to the EMP that relate to our community are made without any reference to us. In future can the Licensing Authority and other Responsible Authorities be more proactive in this regard?

Perhaps the time has come to adopt a new consultation model, in line with best practice for other major events?

The de-brief report confirms that GFEL’s annual License fee is only £32,350. Clearly this fee does not cover the full cost of regulating the Festival – section 4.1 describes “the need for significant support from other areas of the Council”. Would Somerset Council be able to provide a breakdown of their costs for the 2023 Festival across all functions?

Particularly considering the Council’s ‘financial emergency”, shouldn’t a commercial organisation pay the full costs of regulating their activity?

More importantly there is concern that the ‘financial emergency’ will reduce resources to ensure effective regulation for all aspects of GFEL operations in and around Pilton. For example, there are a number of significant planning conditions associated with the recent planning approval – will Somerset Council have sufficient resources and focus to ensure GFEL discharges these conditions in a timely manner?

My simple request is that in the future, rather than putting up barriers, we seek efficient solutions to our concerns through dialogue.


A full written response will be provided. The response from Dave Coles, head of Licensing and Regulatory Services during the meeting: Noise levels are on ongoing piece of work. We are working with consultants to see what can be put in practice. It’s a dynamic event, so it can take adjustment to get it right.