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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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Ticketing cos, BBC, Live Nation among H&G creditors

The identities of the creditors collectively owed almost £900,000 by the company behind the doomed Hope & Glory Festival have been revealed by liquidator Butcher Woods.

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 and set cancellations, blamed by promoter Lee O’Hanlon on production manager Richard Agar, who was allegedly late in completing the festival site. Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd went into liquidation last month with debts of £888,984.

Hope & Glory festival company in liquidation

Documents filed with Companies House by Butcher Woods’ Roderick Butcher on 13 September, first spotted by the Liverpool Echo, show Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd director Iain Kerr, is the single largest creditor, owed £270,000 – more than four times the £63,600 has in assets.

Ticket agencies Skiddle and Eventbrite, both of which refunded festivalgoers out of their own pockets, are owed £73,000 and £138,368.93, respectively, while Liverpool City Council is out of pocket more than £70,000 (£51,972 directly and almost £10,000 for cleaning and waste collection services).

Other creditors include Live Nation (£6,975.76), BBC Radio Merseyside (£500), catering company Gig a Bite (£11,376), Crockford Management (£440), production suppliers Hi Lights (£21,600) and DNG (£21,103.20), artists Dino Baptiste (£250) and Trampolene (£200) and the festivals’ bars (collectively £27,000). Two further companies of which Kerr is a director, Melodi and Hunky Dory Media, are owed £65,000 and £60,000, respectively.

An investigation into the reasons for the failure of the festival is underway and will be complete “shortly”, the council says.

 


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Hope & Glory festival company in liquidation

Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd, the company behind last month’s ill-fated Liverpool festival of the same name, has followed Fyre Festival LLC into liquidation, as 32 creditors seek to reclaim almost £900,000, among them Liverpool City Council.

The inaugural Hope & Glory, which took place in the first weekend of August, was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues and cancellations, blamed by promoter Lee O’Hanlon on production manager Richard Agar.

Ticket agencies Eventbrite and Skiddle ultimately had to refund festivalgoers themselves, with Skiddle director Ben Sebborn saying it “became clear that our customers would remain out of pocket unless we intervened”.

“Any lessons learned will be implemented for future events run by outside organisations”

Insolvency firm Butcher Woods tells the BBC 32 creditors are owed a total of £888,984, with Liverpool City Council seeking “recovery of costs associated with the clean-up operation”.

The council is holding its own inquiry into the organisation of the festival, the findings of which are expected imminently. According to a council spokesman, “any lessons learned will be implemented for future events run by outside organisations.”

Fyre Festival LLC, the promoter of 2017’s other big festival disaster (albeit on a much larger scale), was placed into liquidation by a New York bankruptcy judge last week.

 


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Hope & Glory blames prod. mgr as mayor promises inquiry

The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has promised an “urgent inquiry” into last weekend’s inaugural Hope & Glory festival, which was axed on its second day amid widespread overcrowding, bottlenecking, late running and cancelled sets and a bizarre Twitter rant from organisers.

Responding to a tweet from performing arts tech Colin Farley, Anderson says Liverpool City Council, the governing body for the UK city, will look urgently at “what went disastrously wrong here”, as promoter Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd blamed production manager Richard Agar for what it calls the “multitudinous failures” that led to the festival’s cancellation – and even going so far as to circulate Agar’s personal email address to angry ticketholders.

Hope & Glory, new for 2017, was scheduled for Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 August in St George’s Quarter, Liverpool city centre. The festival was marked by disruption from the outset, with festival director Lee O’Hanlon calling police in response to overcrowding on the site (although he tells IQ the festival was never over capacity) and reports of hour-long queues for concessions and toilets, while several performances, including Charlotte Church’s, were cancelled after stage times ran over by up to two hours.

In a statement released this afternoon, the 12,500-cap. festival “profusely apologise[d] to the public and artists” for the queues, bottlenecking and late running but blamed Agar for the site not being ready.

“Oh, sit down, Tim. Go back to your yoga”

“Mr Agar and the team he appointed to carry out the production sadly did not deliver the site as ready in time for 11am,” it reads. “We view this solely as a management issue as his team appeared to work exceedingly hard to address what they needed to.

“At 12.45, William Brown St [in St George’s Quarter] was still having build materials cleared from it. As a direct result the festival opened one hour and 50 minutes later than agreed and 50 minutes later than advertised. These had a massive impact on the queues that never recovered from them until much later in the day. We will continue to liaise with Mr Agar and his company and seek a resolution over these issues.”

In addition to blaming Agar for the late opening, the statement alleges he failed to construct several requested overflow entrances to the festival site.

“Despite the delay opening, it became apparent that the bridges that the festival had requested be built from William Brown Street into St John’s Gardens to ease congestion had not been built,” it continues. “We believe that these were the sole reason for the bottlenecking that occurred. We requested that these be delivered by Mr Agar’s production management as agreed, and they clearly were not.”

“Mr Agar and the team he appointed to carry out the production sadly did not deliver the site as ready in time for 11am”

Hope & Glory has directed festivalgoers to ticket agencies for refunds.

O’Hanlon’s account of a breakdown in communication between promoters, production company and local authorities might have been easier to swallow had the festival’s Twitter account not spent much of yesterday attacking artists and ticketholders.

The festival’s now-deleted Twitter account, @HopeAndGloryFes, began Sunday by announcing simply “No festival today”, before sparring with angry fans and telling James frontman Tim Booth to “go back to [his] yoga” after calling the festival “fucked up”.

O’Hanlon, who also runs communications/events agency tinyCOW, made headlines last year for a dispute with the Manx government over loss-making concerts by Tom Jones and the Jacksons.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Hope & Glory’s Twitter account, @HopeAndGloryFes, as being responsible for a tweet that told a fan “the refunds are all gone”, accompanied by a cartoon of a man swimming in money. The tweet in question was actually sent by a parody account, @HopeAnGloryFesIQ apologises to Lee O’Hanlon for the error.

 


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