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The Knebworth Park Festivals.
Oh God, Not Another Boring Old Knebworth: 9-9-78.
The Tubes, Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel, Boomtown Rats, Rockpile, Wilko Johnson's Solid Senders
Welfare Agency Report
Civil Aid .
Even though the Zappa/Tubes Concert did not have an official FWS 'presence' (owing to the minimal Welfare requirement of the Promoter,) it was a good example of the way in which you have coaxed, or coerced intervention by teams from member organisations of FWS throughout the Festival season !
As you know, only St Johns' were 'requested' to attend. Samaritans Festival Branch fielded a team at their own request, without payment of fee or expenses - probably the Promoter anticipated and relied on this happening! Civil Aid had offered to attend, at cost, to provide specified field communications, campsite food, campsite first aid (if St Johns' were unable to) and an"Emergency Squad".
The offer was refused. But 24 hours before the event the Promoter's Campsite Manager, worried no doubt at the lack of welfare services, requested Richmond Civil Aid to provide an 'emergency squad' against free passes. This was not acceptable as we have no means of funding festival expenses and it is against our policy to attend commercial events without reimbursement of expenses. This was conceded at the last minute and a 6 man squad was provided, despite the unnecessary totally inadequate notice, equipped for emergency feeding, first aid, communications, fire fighting etc.
It was this last facility which was most needed, for a strong wind was blowing across the campsite throughout the weekend and we counted over 100 campfires each night. These were consuming large spars of pinewood, or fir, provided by the Promoter, which the campers had no means of reducing in size. In consequence, showers of sparks were endangering many tents. Patrols were maintained until the fires went out. Campers were warned to reduce or extinguish dangerous fires and in the few instances where they refused to comply after receiving an explanation for the request, the patrol put out the fire. A dozen or so fires had been lit by campers who had penetrated into the woods. One with flames 12' to 15' high could not be seen by the campers as dangerous.
For future events firewood should be supplied "firewood size' not 5'0" logs and branches. The Samaritans found it difficult to operate efficiently without facilities in the Admin area, but were exercising some supervision of the Crash Marquees in the absence of 'Source'. The FWS Chairman, Field Worker and representative attended as observers.
The CA Emergency Squad was otherwise engaged in constantly re-starting defective diesel generators powering essential tower floodlights, supplementing the undermanned campsite control point, providing coffee when the electric power supply failed and generally assisting and providing transport for the campsite manager, before finally supervising clearance of the campsite by midday on the Sunday.
The attendance of 50,OOO approx was "comfortable", Police kept a low profile and the weather was kind. In short it was a happy, successful Festival with no major problems, but those whIch did exist could more readily have been resolved for the benefit of the campers had the need for a full FWS team been recognised by the Promoter. A larger attendance combined with bad weather would have produced major problems.
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