MugStock objector says he saw drug dealers scale fences into T in the Park

Residents have objected to the three-year licence for the new music festival while organised promise it will be very different.

MugStock objector says he saw drug dealers scale fences into T in the Park campsite Getty Images

A man has told a council committee he watched drug dealers scaling the fence to get into the T in the Park campsite.

The resident claimed he and his wife provided over 100 pages of information to Perth and Kinross Council’s licensing committee but were “completely ignored”.

Following three tragic deaths at the festival in 2016, T in the Park was discontinued.

The resident – who submitted objections to licensing applications submitted by the organisers of MugStock – told councillors this week: “The sanctity of life is more important than a music festival.”

He was once again attending a meeting of PKC’s Licensing Committee on Monday, November 13.

This time the committee was being asked to consider granting both a public entertainment licence and a market traders’ licence for the smaller scale MugStock music festival for the next three years.

The not-for-profit festival – which was called off this year due to poor sales – is scheduled to take place at Strathallan Castle from August 2 ot August 5, 2024 – the site which previously hosted T in the Park.

Up to 5,000 tickets are on sale for the event compared with 70,000 for T in the Park. The man and two other objectors called for the licences to be reduced to one year.

“I would certainly be prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt as long as that was on a one-year licence,” he said.

“At least it gives them the opportunity to prove they are a thoroughly upright and competent organisation.

“Sadly my past experience was I listened to all the promises made – it was all going to be wonderful, etc, etc. And it wasn’t. People lost their lives.

“I’m sorry to have to say this but my wife and I sat in front of this committee. We gave you over 100 pages of information. We provided physical evidence of what’s going on site and we were completely ignored and four people died. And that’s my principle reason for being here. The sanctity of life is more important than a music festival.”

A 36-year-old man died at T in the Park in 2015 – the first year it was held at Strathallan Castle. In 2016, Jim Richardson, 29, Megan Bell, 17, and Peter McCallum, 17, all died in what were thought to be drug-related deaths.

The first objector called for the festival to be a one-day event. Conservative councillor Bob Brawn asked what difference removing the camping element would make.

The objector said the campsite was “the obvious place” for drugs and added: “Indeed with T in the Park we watched the people climbing in and out over the fences with their bags of drugs to sell on the campsite.

“The campsite is somehow seen to be outwith the main event and therefore the security element is perhaps not as tight as it should be.”

Asked if this was reported to the police, he said: “Absolutely. We were in constant contact with the police. But unfortunately, right from the start we were told by the police, security for an event of this nature is in the hands of the event organiser not the police.

“The police are only there to deal with the ultimate ramifications. They are not there to deal with prevention.”

The second letter of objection was submitted by a couple who agreed the licence should only be granted for one year “to address some of the concerns”.

They said: “The administration of the whole process seems to have been somewhat cavalier.”

Organiser Alan Govan told the committee MugStock would be very different from T in the Park.

He said: “I went to T in the Park as an 18-year-old. I’m 41 now. I think probably the objectors and I have more in common in our views on T in the Park than we do differences.

“One of the primary reasons for this festival being established was to provide a palpable alternative where people do feel safe and tragedy does not occur and have a really nice time together.”

Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied to the family and dog-friendly festival.

He said: “We want to put on a festival that feels safe and has a nice environment. We focus on emerging acts.

“MugStock is a registered charity. It’s run as a non-profit event. It’s volunteer-led. I’m a volunteer myself and that’s the spirit of it. We’re here to celebrate human talent and potential and do it in a nice place and hopefully while having the minimal possible impact on anyone concerned.”

He added: “We do not book the type of acts that people will bother to jump fences to get into.”

Mr Govan said the event had moved from Mugdock Country Park near Glasgow to Strathallan Estate because of site constraints due to “very little infrastructure in terms of parking and very little in terms of space”.

He said: “We ended up using the overflow car park as the main arena. That meant there was even less room for parking so we rented a field one mile away – from a local farmer. That was the car park.

“Part of it was also partitioned to include live-in vehicles and then to include family camping. We ended up with a large chunk a mile away and only accessible via a shuttle bus. There wasn’t any room to grow further.”

Councillor Hugh Anderson sought to approve the public entertainment application with the provision dogs were excluded for the whole event but garnered no support.

Councillors narrowly voted by five votes to four to grant the licence for three years – four supported an amendment to grant it for one year. The market traders’ licence was also then approved for three years.

Following the meeting, inspector David Gibson from Events Planning at Police Scotland said: “We acknowledge the outcome of the application and are working with the organiser to deliver a safe event.”

T in the Park organiser DF Concerts and Events was approached for comment.

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