ONE of Scotland’s leading tourism industry figures has thrown his weight behind the controversial relocation of T in the Park to a new site - just a few miles from his own flagship hotel.
Stephen Leckie, chief executive of Crieff Hydro, said the huge benefits of holding the event in the ground of Strathallan Castle outweighed any negatives local people would experience.
Mr Leckie, who has been at the helm of the hotel for the last two decades, praised the event’s promoters, DF Concerts, for the level of preparations they were making, but insisted it was not a “done deal” that the festival would definitely go ahead at Strathallan.
Mr Leckie, chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said he was convinced that concerns being raised over the staging of the event at Strathallan were being treated seriously.
But he raised concerns about the event, the biggest live music event in Scotland, being forced to relocate south of the border due to the level of opposition. It is worth more than £15 million to the national economy according to the most recent analysis of the festival.
Mr Leckie said the tourism industry had to take a “wider view” of the event than any inconvenience it would cause for people living in and around the Perthshire estate.
[The] reality is that if you look at the wider picture for the tourism industry, this event is good news for Scotland. Imagine if T in the Park were not to take place in Scotland and went to England.Stephen Leckie
He has spoken out weeks after it emerged managers at the five-star Gleneagles had protested about the staging of the festival at Strathallan.
A seven-page letter submitted to Perth and Kinross Council raised concerns over the prospect of traffic chaos, guests being disturbed by the noise of live bands, antisocial behaviour problems from festival-goers and seven “satellite” campsites being set up in the area.
Councillors will decide next whether to grant the festival, which was forced to relocate from its long-time home at Balado due to safety fears over an underground oil pipeline, planning permission for its new home at Strathallan.
Crieff Hydro, one of Scotland’s most popular family hotels, is around eight miles from the proposed festival site, roughly two miles further away than Gleneagles, which played host to the Ryder Cup golf tournament last year.
Mr Leckie said: “DF Concerts are still going through the official process. It is not a done deal at Strathallan.
“But from our experiences with them, and I’ve been to many meetings, they are a very professional, well-run, able organisation.
“They take all comments and feedback very seriously. They are listening people and have been answering any questions transparently, honesty and with integrity.
“I do feel very sorry for those people who live on the Strathallan Castle estate and directly associated it. There is a reality with the event if it goes ahead. They will be swamped by 85,000 young folk, but that’s just the way it is.
“But the reality is that if you look at the wider picture for the tourism industry, this event is good news for Scotland. Imagine if T in the Park were not to take place in Scotland and went to England.
“Imagine if we didn’t bother with events like the Ryder Cup or the Commonwealth Games. There will be other big golf tournaments that are on this year that must inconveniencing local people in some way.
“I am sensitive to the views of people living in and around the Strathallan Castle estate. I am friends with a lot of people who live in the area.
“You have to take a wider view that this event is good for the economy and the exposure it brings for Scotland. There is that whole credibility factor for the country.”
A spokeswoman for DF Concerts said: Over the last 18 years in Kinross, we have proved that we are willing to work with locals and community councils to ensure the festival benefitted the area culturally and economically – with minimal disruption.
“The festival has always been well-managed in partnership with a multi-agency group that includes Police Scotland, the council, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Traffic Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.”
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