Inquiry: Organisers ‘to blame’ for Hope & Glory collapse
An independent investigation into the cancellation of the inaugural Hope & Glory festival has found organisers responsible for its collapse.
Liverpool City Council on Friday shared the findings of the inquiry, commissioned by mayor Joe Anderson and undertaken by security consultancy The Event Safety Shop, describes a “catalogue of failures” on the part of promoter Lee O’Hanlon and his company, tinyCOW – while also recommending the city’s Joint Agency Group (JAG) and Safety Advisory Group (SAG) be more involved in examining plans for festivals in the city in future.
The inaugural Hope & Glory (H&G), which took place in the first weekend of August, was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues for facilities and sets being cancelled or running over, blamed by O’Hanlon on production manager Richard Agar, who he said was late in completing the festival site.
Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd, the company behind the ill-fated event, went in liquidation last month with debts of almost £900,000.
“We are a city renowned for staging large-scale, successful events, and, as a result of our reputation, we have more and more interest from the private sector in staging events here,” says Anderson (pictured), commenting on the publication of the findings. “We can’t accept anything that jeopardises our hard-won reputation. This is why I commissioned an independent report to spell out exactly why this privately organised event failed, and look at what the public sector could do to mitigate this happening again.
“As a result of this report, we will work with our partners to put in place enhanced planning procedures for events”
“It’s clear in retrospect that the failure of the event was down to the mismanagement of the organisers, and our staff did tremendous work on the first day sorting out a wide range of issues and enabling the event to continue.
“This report was all about learning lessons, and although our procedures have served us well for the past ten years, the context and environment for staging events has changed in recent years – so we need to be honest with ourselves and reflect on the processes and procedures that are in place and react to the recommendations put forward.
“As a result of this report, we will work with our partners to put in place enhanced planning procedures for events which will find the right balance between scrutinising documents and not making the process too bureaucratic for organisers.
“If the company hadn’t gone into liquidation, I would have asked Merseyside police to investigate the financial liabilities of Hope and Glory Festivals Ltd. As far as I’m concerned, they have a moral obligation to reimburse disappointed ticket-holders who are out of pocket, and I will be making this point to the liquidators.”
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, O’Hanlon says he still blames Agar for the lion’s share of Hope & Glory’s issues, telling the paper Richard Agar Productions “had wholesale failings in the festival and delivery of the festival”.
“It would be unfair and inappropriate not to attribute the failings to the bodies and professional services that were employed to deliver the festival”
“That company also chose the people in key positions that were part of the delivery,” he continues, “and I also state that there were failings of Liverpool City Council.
“I have said that I accept there were failings in the festival, but it would be unfair and inappropriate not to attribute those exact failings to the appropriate bodies and professional services that were employed to deliver the festival.”
Agar also questions the independence of the inquiry, funded as it was by the council. “It is not an independent report because it was paid for by the Mayor’s office,” he says.
“How the leader of the council can request an independent report into themselves is a ridiculous notion.”
The report can be read in full here.
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