Return of annual ‘mini-Glastonbury’ is a nightmare for us, say festival neighbours

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Bromley residents have claimed a ‘mini-Glastonbury’ style music festival in their area is so disruptive that they are forced to leave their homes for the duration of it.

Bromley council has received an application for the Soul Town music festival to be held at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham in August and September this year.

The upcoming festival is expected to see performances from the Four Tops and the Tavares.

The application represents the sixth year that the Soul Town festival would be based in the park, with the event now attracting nearly 10,000 people.

The festival would run for two days on August 31 and September 1, from midday to 10pm on Saturday and 9pm on Sunday.

Council officers said in their report that residents have cited several concerns about the festival, with one complainant labelling it as a ‘mini-Glastonbury’ type of event, according to the report.

The person added that residents felt they had no alternative but to leave their homes on both days of the festival.

One of the objectors to the event, who lives beside the park, said at a council meeting in February last year that there were numerous issues with antisocial behaviour at the event and afterwards.

“I’ve lived here 27 years,” he said. “This isn’t like anything else. I know 11 people on Durban Road who leave for that weekend. They book a flight and they don’t come back until Monday.

“When it finishes, you’ve got people coming out and they’re so drunk they can’t do anything. We’ve been buying industrial amounts of disinfectant to clean. We’re cleaning up all the mess, vomit and the urination.”

Council documents said the festival had seen several issues with excessive noise and overcrowding between 2018 and 2021. However, police reports from the previous two events in 2022 and 2023 stated that there had been a ‘massive improvement’ in organisation.

Joe Courtney, co-founder of the festival, said at the meeting last year that several consultation meetings were held with residents in the months leading up to the event.

Mr Courtney said at the meeting: “We try to work around our local residents, who are in support of the festival and who do want this to go ahead. The safety advisory group have been in support of the festival this year with no problems in their departments as of the year just gone.”

The application for the Soul Town festival later this year will be discussed at a council licensing meeting on March 25. Previous conditions for the organisers have included applying for traffic management systems on neighbouring roads and hiring a cleaning team for the area afterwards.

Pictured top: The festival has taken place in Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham since 2018 (Picture: Google Street View)

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