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Benn’s Wireless reveals new security strategy for 2016

Festival Republic managing director and newly appointed Wireless festival director Melvin Benn last night hosted a press conference at The Hospital Club in central London, announcing a restructure of the festival’s operational team and a number of on-site security improvements for 2016.

While Benn didn’t directly address residents’ group The Friends of Finsbury Park’s legal challenge to the festival, which will be held this year from 8 to 10 July in north London’s Finsbury Park and headlined by Calvin Harris, Chase & Status and Kygo, the security situation – or the “massive disruption, damage, excessive noise and antisocial behaviour in streets surrounding the park”, in the words of The Friends of Finsbury Park – is one of the group’s main complaints about Live Nation/Festival Republic staging Wireless in its current location.

“We have been working closely with local police and Haringey council, as well as festivalgoers, on a full site improvement plan for Wireless Festival 2016,” said Benn. “Our new security strategy will solve issues from last year’s event, which includes the restructuring and management of key areas, specifically site structure and security. This is a new year for Wireless Festival, and we’re confident it’s going to be better than ever.”

“Our new security strategy will solve issues from last year’s event, which includes the restructuring and management of key areas, specifically site structure and security”

The new operational team now includes specialist security teams, with newly created roles including security coordinator and offsite security positions adding to the overall site improvement plan.

Last year’s Wireless proved controversial after violence erupted on Saturday. A crowd of around 150 people trampled security fences and fought with police and security as they tried to gatecrash the festival at about 6pm.

Benn has also been brought in as executive producer for the troubled T in the Park festival, which last year was heavily was criticised for its traffic congestion, failings on crowd control and security and repeated breaches of planning permission. The Scottish festival is undergoing a process of transformation for 2016, with a more spacious arenalarger, better-stewarded campsite and improved transport infrastructure.

Finsbury Park residents’ group launches Wireless legal challenge

The Friends of Finsbury Park has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for its legal challenge to stop this year’s Wireless Festival.

The residents’ association is following through with the legal action it threatened against Haringey Council after the council gave permission to Festival Republic/Live Nation to stage the festival in Finsbury Park, north London, for the third time from 8 to 10 July.

As of midday today the Say No to Wireless in Finsbury Park campaign has raised £2,165 from 20 backers (of a goal of £5,000) on the CrowdJustice website.

The Friends of Finsbury Park believes, “after reviewing the relevant legislation”, that “Haringey Council does not have the power to hold Wireless Festival” in the grade II-listed public park, which is classed as Metropolitan Open Land.

The group says the 110-acre (46ha) park is too small for the festival, which has a daily capacity of 49,000, and that “the outcome of this case could affect all London parks, as councils seek to sell off and privatise green spaces. The argument that huge commercial events such as Wireless Festival must take place in order to maintain a public space is deeply disturbing and cannot be allowed to happen.”

Finsbury Park has a long history of hosting live music, with notable performances including Bob Dylan on his Never Ending European tour in 1993, the Sex Pistols’ 1996 comeback concert, Oasis on their Heathen Chemistry tour in 2002 and The Stone Roses’ reunion tour in 2013. It was also the location for Mean Fiddler’s Fleadh Festival from 1990 to 2003 and Rise Festival from 2006 to 2009.

Calvin Harris, Chase & Status and Kygo will headline Wireless 2016.