Leader comment: '˜T' break is time for a rethink if festival is to return

The announcement that T in the Park will not take place next year is not only sad news for young music fans but a blow for Scotland's cultural fabric more generally.

T In The Park has brought a lot of joy but has come with problems too.

Since its launch in 1994, the festival has become a fixture of Scotland’s music scene, helping attract some of the world’s biggest bands to these shores as well as giving a break to fledgling local acts.

But like a group of ageing rockers now just going through the motions, T in the Park has for the past few years begun to look as if it has run out of ideas.

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To make matters worse, it has been beset with traffic problems and anti-social behaviour.

Two teenagers died drug-related deaths at this year’s festival, which was also plagued by fights among fans.

At its height, “T” attracted 225,000 people over the three-day event, including 70,000 campers.

It was hugely successful when staged at Balado airfield in Kinross, but organisers DF Concerts were forced to move the event due to long-standing concerns from the Health and Safety Executive.

It then faced a lengthy battle to secure planning permission for its new site on the Strathallan Estate due to concerns over the impact on the local environment and wildlife.

The scaled-back event went ahead in 2015 but even then appeared unwieldy and badly organised.

Yesterday DF Concerts said the festival would take a break in 2017 without confirming whether it would return the following year. However, reports at the weekend suggested the company is planning to launch a festival at Glasgow Green next summer.

What is clear, however, is that if T in the Park is to come back, it cannot do so in its current form. A revamped event would need to be smaller and safer.

Much of the anti-social behaviour could be ameliorated simply by following the example of festivals such as Glastonbury, where an eclectic bill leads to a more mixed audience not dominated by teenagers away from home for the first time.

Nor should the festival be propped up with public money.

There was controversy last year when it emerged the Scottish Government had secretly given DF Concerts £150,000 of taxpayers’ money to host the event over the next three years.

Yesterday the government said it expected the firm to pay back £50,000 if the 2017 festival does not go ahead.

Scotland needs events like T in the Park but it does not need drug deaths, anti-social behaviour and the other problems with which the festival was increasingly being associated.

There is still a place for T in the Park and many will be bitterly disappointed if it does not come back.

For that to happen, however, organisers need to learn the lessons of the past few years where the event has increasingly looked as if it has run its course.