Festival founder fumes over event's 'exploitation'

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The Independent Culture

Sunshine nurtured an outbreak of peace and love at the Glastonbury Festival yesterday ­ for all except its founder, Michael Eavis.

Sunshine nurtured an outbreak of peace and love at the Glastonbury Festival yesterday ­ for all except its founder, Michael Eavis.

While festival-goers enjoyed the laid-back ambience at Worthy Farm in Somerset, Mr Eavis was fuming over what he sees as a blatant attempt to exploit Glastonbury's good name. The row is with the Mean Fiddler, the concert organiser, brought in to take care of security after trouble in previous years threatened the event.

Mr Eavis, who set up the festival more than 30 years ago, is infuriated by claims that Vince Power, the Mean Fiddler's chief executive, is now the force behind the festival. The dairy farmer is concerned that the original concept of the festival ­ which prides itself on distributing profits to good causes ­ has become blurred. He is agitated that the Mean Fiddler's stock is rising with shareholders on what he claims is the strength of the Glastonbury Festival name.

"The Mean Fiddler does not make a big profit out of the festival," he said. "They get 32 per cent of the net profit after I decide what money gets spent on the charities. It covers the cost of Melvyn Benn [who runs site security for the Mean Fiddler]."

In response to Mr Eavis's complaints, the Mean Fiddler issued a one-line statement: "Without the Mean Fiddler and Vince Power and Melvin Benn glorious Glastonbury would not be happening to day and I think Michael knows that."

Elsewhere, festival-goers had few problems. Police reported crime levels had plummeted. A police spokeswoman said that in three days there had been 47 arrests, a 21 per cent drop on last year.The medical team reported an outbreak of common sense. A spokeswoman said only one injury out of more than 360 was as a result of the mud. "We think that is because people have come better prepared for all weathers." Most injuries were the result of people falling over tent pegs and burns from camp stoves, she said.

John Sauven, the campaigns director for Greenpeace, said it seemed better organisation might be responsible for the outbreak of love and peace. "Everybody thinks free love and no authority but somehow having 100,000 people together in one place does need to have some system of control," he said.

Mr Eavis said this year was "fantastic" so far. "We have no hippy convoys, no traveller convoys setting up camp, and the reselling of tickets has virtually stopped. Police tell me there were only four people in a 12-mile stretch of road trying to buy and sell tickets. Last year there were thousands."

Sales were limited to two tickets per person and identification was needed, as all the tickets carried names. Mr Eavis said it had worked well ­ and by starting selling tickets at 8pm instead of 9am, they had succeeded in getting more young people "instead of all 45-year-olds".

There is only one dark cloud on the horizon. It it is expected to deposit half an inch of rain by midday today.


By Chris Bunting

The good old days of smelly canvas tents and £1 tickets may be long gone but Glastonbury festival-goers can be assured that one thing has not changed: the strength of cannabis joints.

A report, An Overview of Cannabis potency in Europe,revealed yesterday that the British cannabis joint has remained almost exactly the same strength for 25 years.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported the potency of the average spliff has been constant at 200mg of herbal cannabis or 150mg of cannabis resin per cigarette since 1979. Levels of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the drug's active ingredient, have been constant.

The average British spliff is less than half as potent as in the Netherlands, where home-grown cannabis is often used.