Isle Of Wight Festival Gets Underway

The first day of this years Isle Of Wight Festival has gone smoothly, with no traffic problems reported at the site.

In 2012, Seaclose Park in Newport was hit by a huge storm as music fans arrived at the event. Car parks ended up as mudbaths after heavy rain and cars had to be towed in by tractors and 4x4s.

Thousands of drivers were stranded for hours, and ferries over from the mainland were hit by delays.

£250,000 has been spent on improvement's for this year's event, which runs from 13-16 June.

Organiser John Giddings said:

"We've doubled the car parking space, and we've built some permanent roads in and out of the car parks. So it's impossible to have a repeat of the scenario where the car park entrances physically collapse under the weight of that amount of rain.

"Everybody tells me it was a freak experience but I don't want to ever encounter a freak experience again.

"We've spent a lot of money doing it because it's not acceptable. We've had a 10 month winter and now we're fully prepared."

The Stone Roses, The Killers and Bon Jovi are headlining over the weekend, with other acts including Emeli Sandé, The Script, Paloma Faith and Blondie also performing.

Police say plans are in place to consolidate close co-operation between festival organisers and partner agencies to keep people safe and on the move.

Hampshire Constabulary's Isle of Wight Festival police commander Chief Superintendent Dave Hardcastle said:

"This event represents the largest policing challenge at a single event across the Isle of Wight and Hampshire this year. Our focus is on helping to ensure such a large influx and exit of people is handled safely, and with the minimum of impact.

"We have all learned lessons from last year's experiences with weather and traffic, which have led to our plans with promoters and partner agencies being reviewed and revised thoroughly.

"Crime levels at the Isle of Wight Festival have remained low, but we are never complacent in our focus to disrupt and detect criminals in conjunction with the organisers and their security staff."

Officers from the force's Roads Policing Unit (RPU) will patrol the main routes around the festival site to respond to emergencies and deal robustly with any motorists endangering lives.

Police are working closely with AA traffic marshals employed by the event promoters to help the traffic flow as freely as possible. Experienced and qualified AA marshals have the same powers to direct traffic as police.

The Roads Policing Unit patrols regularly to remind revellers not to drive home if they are planning a weekend of excess. Police will be conducting drink-drive operations - anyone over the limit can expected to be arrested and taken into custody.

However, festival-goers will have a chance to see if they are fit to drive by taking a voluntary breathalyser test as they leave the venue and head to their vehicles.

Inspector Martin Goodall from the force's Roads Policing Unit (RPU) said: 

"If you want to make sure you're sober, voluntary breathalyser tests are available again this year at the festival campsite police office for anyone who genuinely wants to drive but is unsure if their alcohol level has returned to zero.

"All you have to do is blow into the kit and we'll let you know whether or not you're safe to get behind the wheel. You won't be arrested if you're over the limit, but you will be told not drive."

All policing at the Isle of Wight Festival is paid for by the promoters Solo within a detailed policing plan agreed in advance.

This involves the deployment of additional officers and staff from mainland Hampshire so policing of the island is not affected.

Chief Superintendent Dave Hardcastle added:

"We and the promoters have acted on concerns of the community over the needs and welfare of the vulnerable local residents.

"There are extra patrols dedicated to the Fairlee Road area and surrounding side roads during the festival."

To report a crime, dial 999 in an emergency, or 101 for non-emergencies. Mini-Com users can call the police on 01962 875000. Information can be given anonymously by calling the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

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