Festival brings in heavy metal to keep the peace

James Mellor
Monday 16 June 1997 23:02

Rock and roll will come under lock and key at this year's Glastonbury festival as organisers impose the most concerted clampdown yet on gatecrashers.

The three-day festival, staged at Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, opens on Friday next week and preparations have included a mammoth security operation. The six-mile perimeter of the festival site has been surrounded by two forbidding steel fences, increased to three at vulnerable points.

Organisers have added manned watchtowers and moats - areas of dead land between fences - where, as both inside and outside, security guards will patrol.

A spokesman for Michael Eavis, the owner of Worthy Farm and Labour candidate for Wells at the general election, who has organised the festival over the past 27 years, said: "There will be more people than ever before involved in patrolling the site and security is strong. If people do not have a ticket there is no point in coming down. They will not get in and there is always a danger of falling prey to ticket touts or pickpockets."

Mr Eavis, 61, inspired by Shepton Mallet's Bath Blues festival - into which he and his wife gained access by sneaking through a hole in the fence - launched the Glastonbury festival in 1970. Marc Bolan played to a crowd of fewer than 1,000 people. This year, 90,500 tickets have been sold and the cost of setting up the event is calculated at pounds 6m.

However, in the past, the festival has been beset by stewarding and policing problems. In 1995 an estimated 20,000 people gained entry to the site without tickets.

During the past month Avon and Somerset police have seized drugs they believe were destined for this year's festival in a number of raids. Last month, heroin valued at more than pounds 2m was discovered at a Bristol railway station.

Inspector Keith Jones said: "Glastonbury is the biggest operation this force polices. We have been clearing the streets of drugs prior to the festival because we are aware the event increases drug use in the area.

"Seizures have been made and we think that they are linked to the festival. We will have a presence at the event both in and outside the actual site."

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