Brighton restricts beach parties after Fatboy Slim concert chaos

Fatboy Slim will not be able to repeat this summer's huge Brighton beach party next year after councillors decided that adequate safety controls could not be put in place in time.

However, Brighton and Hove City Council has said the party, which drew 250,000 people in July, can return in 2004 once procedures for coping with the crowds are in place. Until then, it has decided to restrict open-air events on the beach to about 60,000 people, the number that the authorities had expected to go to the party by the DJ, also known as Norman Cook.

When hundreds of thousands of people descended on the beach, the town ground to a halt and there were serious problems cleaning up the beach after the event. An Australian nurse died when she fell over seafront railings shortly after the party.

The council's culture committee had considered banning large open-air events on the beach but has decided they can go ahead once new guidelines are approved. The regulations are likely to put a limit on the number of people who can attend, make events ticket-only and possibly restricted to a fenced-in area.

Mike Middleton, a Labour member of the culture committee, said that the council had agreed to give itself a "breathing space" next year but was happy to host a big beach party in 2004.

"We felt that 2003 would be too soon to host a large music spectacular on Brighton beach. Everybody was caught out last year and we don't want that to happen again," he said.

"If somebody wanted to stage an event next summer they would have to start planning now. People think it is too short a timescale to sort it all out on time.

"I would like it to happen again, but we would rather get it right than have the bad publicity like this year."

Councillors believe Cook's event was a victim of its own success because no one had anticipated such large crowds arriving. Another member of the committee, Brian Fitch, said the council needed to develop a strategy to ensure it could hold big events that would be safe and successful. "We wouldn't forgive ourselves if a tragedy occurred," he said.

A spokesman for Norman Cook said no decision had been taken yet about an event next year. "Obviously, we would adhere to any council recommendations in regard to future plans for live events on Brighton beach," he said.

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