Love Parade called off over safety fears

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The Independent Online

A BBC pop festival billed as Britain's biggest free outdoor event has been called off after Newcastle City Council could not meet a 24-hour ultimatum to resolve safety concerns.

The Love Parade, due to take place on 21 and 22 July, was abandoned because of the council's failure to organise a safe park-and-ride system.

Radio 1 had earlier taken the unusual step of issuing the deadline after police said they were not satisfied with traffic plans, which were the local authority's responsibility. Crisis talks held over the weekend between the radio station, the council and Northumbria Police failed to reach a solution.

More than 100 DJs and performers, including Fatboy Slim and Pete Tong, were booked to take part. Many of the 250,000 people expected to turn up had already booked travel and accommodation. Andy Parfitt, controller of Radio 1, said: "On behalf of the dance and music community and dance music fans, particularly all those in the North-east who have shown us so much support during the past 24 hours, I express my sadness."

There is little consolation for businesses in Newcastle looking forward to the extra £14m that revellers would have bought to the economy.

Tony Flynn, Newcastle's council leader, said: "Everyone involved has worked around the clock to make this work but the logistical difficulties of bringing 250,000 people into the city successfully in a very concentrated time frame proved insurmountable ... I know that this news will disappoint thousands of people who were looking forward to the event, and I share their disappointment."