Brian Ferguson: New T in the Park venue criticism

The T in the Park festival will be moving to its new home after 17 years at Ballardo. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The T in the Park festival will be moving to its new home after 17 years at Ballardo. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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GEOFF Ellis, the man behind T in the Park, was understandably weary as he kicked off a day of media interviews.

He had the air of someone who knew he would face question after question about the storm clouds gathering over the new home for the event. His mood with the critics was not helped by news that the five-star resort at Gleneagles had become the latest official objector.

It is impossible to imagine a more damning verdict on the prospect of T in the Park and its 85,000 followers arriving in the area than the seven- page one delivered from Gleneagles’ representatives.

It painted a picture of impending Armageddon for its staff and anyone who has the misfortune to be staying there when the festival is held.

It is obvious the hotel’s management would simply like to wish it away from the area. But is that a realistic prospect?

With the Scottish Government and Health and Safety Executive unable to resolve safety concerns over its previous home at Balado, it is worth remembering that T in the Park’s relocation has been forced upon it.

Mr Ellis could not have been clearer when he said he expects to receive planning permission in April. For him, the next few months are about fine-tuning the planning for the event, rather than debating whether or not it should happen.

Ellis and his company DF Concerts knew it would be a major challenge to find a suitable alternative site, in a location handily placed for Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and the Highlands.

The 1,000-acre grounds of Strathallan Castle were only chosen after a trawl of other sites in the Perth and Kinross area, where the local council were understandably keen to retain their most lucrative annual event.

With thousands of tickets already sold, dozens of bands booked and the event worth around £15 million to the economy, the authorities now simply have to do their best to make T in the Park at Strathallan work.

The idea that the festival can be held without any inconvenience to local people is a non-starter.

That is exactly the same for the Tattoo and Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, concerts and football matches at Hampden Park, and the Open golf tournament.

Major events are also held at country house estates and historic sites up and down the country without any significant problems.

Admittedly, T in the Park is on a much bigger scale than anything else in Scotland and it is being held in a completely untried, rural location.

But until the logistical preparations are put into practice and properly tested, its organisers must surely be given the benefit of the doubt.

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