Taxpayers fund search for new T in the Park site

T in the Park. Picture: Contributed

T in the Park. Picture: Contributed

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FURIOUS campaigners have criticised a council for its involvement in a bid to find a new permanent home for the T in the Park music festival.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed Perth and Kinross Council hired land experts Bell Ingram to find an alternative location for the three-day festival in 2011, after it became apparent it would have to move from its former home at Balado airfield, Kinross-shire.

The council paid for a “scoping report” as organisers of the music festival sought an alternative location amid fears a major gas pipeline beneath the Balado site could rupture.

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Mark Liddiard, 53, who lives on the Strathallan Estate, where it is proposed the festival should move and who opposes the plan, hit out at the findings.

Mr Liddiard, who also represents the Strathallan T Action Group, said: “Perth and Kinross Council employed Bell Ingram in 2011 to search for suitable sites for T in the Park, which we think is not the way public money should be spent when all we ever hear is there is never enough money for anything.”

He questioned why Strathallan had been chosen to host the festival, when it was one of the least favoured by Bell Ingram after the initial survey.

He said: “Bell Ingram produced a survey of 14 sites, scored them and ranked them in terms of suitability.

“Strathallan came in at 12 out of the 14 – so pretty much at the bottom of the pile.

“They were all scored out of 100 and Strathallan didn’t even get 50 per cent.

“The main reason given was that it was too remote and it had very poor accessibility to the A9.

“Bell Ingram have since said some of the criteria have changed. We hardly think the estate has moved any closer to the A9.

“So either nobody else wanted T in the Park or it wanted too much money and they weren’t prepared to pay for it and it ended up here.

“They are literally scraping the bottom of the barrel.”

A spokeswoman for the Strathearn and District Forum of Community Councils has also criticised the council’s decision to fund the survey.

She said: “Why are Perth and Kinross Council assisting a successful commercial company in this way? And, also, given that [of] 14 sites investigated Strathallan was rated 12, why did they eventually end up with ­Strathallan?”

She said she would raise the matter at the forum, and with councillors.

“I’ll be asking: did councillors agree to this, was it a decision taken by the whole council – or was it an officers’ only decision?”

A council spokeswoman said: “The council recognises the significant economic impact generated by T in the Park and was keen to ensure potentially suitable sites within the area were considered as possible locations for future festivals.

“The survey was commissioned by the council so that we were in a position to fully advise DF Concerts on the alternative locations within Perth and Kinross. While the survey was commissioned by the council, the final decision about the site was made by DF Concerts.”

A spokesperson said: “T in the Park spent 18 successful years at Balado during which time it generated significant benefits for the local area, boosting tourism and contributing a huge amount to local charities.

“On realising the festival may have to leave Balado, it would have been remiss of the council not to look at the options for the event to stay in the area.”

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