Glastonbury locals lose their free festival tickets

Eavis's decision to reduce catchment area for offer provokes angry response
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The Independent Culture

Each June, the residents of three tiny villages in rural Somerset brace themselves for the Glastonbury festival, when almost 200,000 people descend on their quiet part of the country for a long weekend of music and revelry.

For almost 40 years, organiser Michael Eavis has been careful to keep relations with the residents of Pilton, Pylle and Sticklynch cordial by handing out free tickets to make up for the noise and disruption caused by the massive event. But, this year, he has provoked their ire by cutting the number of passes, forcing hundreds of people who used to receive them to pay their own way. In the past, free tickets have been issued to residents living within a local catchment area, near the festival site at Worthy Farm. But last month, maps were posted in various locations around Pilton which showed a new, smaller area had been drawn up.

Those living outside the boundary will only be given a ticket for Sunday's performances, whereas previously they were admitted for the entire weekend. It is thought that up to 300 people are affected by the changes.

One local resident, who did not want to be named, told The Independent that she had enjoyed free entry to the festival for many years, but that the reduction in the size of the catchment area had forced her and a "substantial number" of others to fork out £175 for a full-price ticket.

"A lot of people have been disenfranchised and are feeling pretty sore about it," she said. "For most of us who live within the boundary, the festival impacts on us in one way or another – in my case it's the traffic. If you get a free ticket, you turn a blind eye to it, because you've got a week or so of having a good time. Normally you feel quite benign about it all. But if you don't get a free ticket, you don't feel quite so benign.

"My particular road is used as a rat run. From Wednesday night, there is a constant stream of caravans and camper vans going through. Normally it's OK, because you think 'That's great, they're all part of what I'm part of'. But that changes if you're suddenly having to pay a lot of money. It's tricky because we're all locals and we don't want to fall out. But on the other hand, we feel quite strongly about it."

A spokesman for Glastonbury said those who received free Sunday tickets could also use them to claim £60 off a full-price ticket. He added that Mr Eavis and his daughter Emily, who is jointly responsible for running the festival, did not want to upset local residents and had employed a representative to go from village to village listening to people's concerns.

Mr Eavis said: "Our relationship with the villagers has always been extremely good, but this year there was a slight change to the boundary for free tickets, which is now slightly smaller. As a result, a small percentage of people who have in the past got free tickets are now being offered the option of Sunday tickets rather than full weekend tickets.

"The Glastonbury festival is constantly changing and evolving. I don't know of any other festival or major event that looks after people who live locally as well as we do, and the majority of people will remain unaffected."