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Reading festival – hoping for a fun but safe event

As the lead councillor with responsibility for community safety I recently agreed with the police that we should have a dispersal order in place again following the success it had in 2010.  I won’t be going to the festival but it looks like it has a great line up – I would expect Pulp to be a particular highlight (showing my age perhaps!).

The dispersal order will enable the police to break up any group, defined rather broadly as ‘2 or more’, who they think is likely to cause trouble: not just festival goers but also aggressive ticket touts.  It’s a power they use with discretion and I hope it will be of benefit not just to local residents but also to our visitors.  As I said in the police’s press release what we want is for all who attend to have a fun, safe time.

This is not the only thing we are doing to try to reduce crime and disorder associated with the Festival, it’s part of a tool kit that the police will use with discretion.

There’s more coverage here

If you have any concerns regarding the festival there’s a central phone number: (0118) 937 3737.

The council has issued transport advice as follows:
“Residents are being reminded that this year’s Reading Festival begins next week and town centre traffic will be very heavy in the run up to the event.

Reading Festival 2011 runs from Friday August 26th to Sunday August 28th and traffic volume is expected to peak from Wednesday August 24th through to Friday August 26th, and again with the departure on Bank Holiday Monday – August 29th.

Reading residents who need to get into town during the build up to the event are being advised to carefully consider their journey. Where possible taking the bus, cycling and walking may offer quicker journeys. If you need to drive at these busiest times please allow plenty of time for the expected extra demand on the road network.

Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Transport, said: ‘Thousands of people come to Reading every year to enjoy the Festival. Extra visitors to the town undoubtedly generate a lot more traffic over the Bank Holiday weekend and also in the days running up to the event. To reduce the impact of disruption on the roads for both residents and festival goers, the Council encourages people to travel by public transport and make use of the other ways to get around town that don’t involve a car, such as cycling, walking or taking a bus. The Council has been working with the police and also festival organisers to make sure the roads around the festival site run as smoothly as possible before and during the event.’

Although the majority of visitors to the festival arrive by public transport, this also includes road-based travel. Around 15,000 people will be heading for the site by coach throughout the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

In addition to updates from the local media, route information will be displayed on the existing variable message signs along the major routes into Reading, advising both local and festival traffic of conditions.

Parking restrictions are in place around the Richfield Avenue site, and this area should be avoided during the festival period. Festival car parking is available at Mapledurham and Kings Meadow. There are no facilities directly around the site for drivers to drop off and pick up passengers – instead drivers should follow the directions to the official drop off and pick up points at Kings Meadow.

For festival visitors parking at Mapledurham, a pedestrian bridge has again been constructed into the site to ensure easy access to the festival. For those parking in Kings Meadow a boat service is provided free of charge to help transport everyone and their belongings to the festival.

On Monday 29th there will be no access to Richfield Avenue through Cow Lane Bridges, Diversion signs will be in operation, along the Oxford Road and along the IDR. In addition, temporary traffic management will be in operation at the Napier Road/Vastern Road roundabout and it is advisable to avoid these areas during Bank Holiday Monday.

A night time closure of the Thames Path (from 9pm to 6am) will be in operation from Thursday August 25th to Saturday August 27th inclusive. The closure will apply between Scours Lane to the far end of Thames Side Promenade. The temporary closure is implemented for security and safety grounds.

Reading Borough Council has again worked with the festival organisers to produce travel information leaflets that have been sent out with tickets with details of bus, rail and park and ride services. As in previous years a special shuttle bus will be running between the station and the festival site to help visitors that arrive by train.

To help maintain traffic flow, the council’s parking enforcement officers will be working alongside the police during the weekend to crack down on people who park illegally and cause an obstruction.

Throughout the duration of the festival a temporary taxi rank will be operating in Tessa Road – opposite the Rivermead Leisure Centre next to the Festival site – as a further option when travelling to and from the site. There will be another taxi rank in Loverock Road (close to Wigmore Lane) on Bank Holiday Monday only. There will be a third taxi rank at Thames Prom. Visitors are being reminded that they should pre-book private hire vehicles rather than hail them from the roadside. All licensed vehicles will display a Reading Borough Council plate on the back and all drivers should have an identity badge in full view.

If any resident has concerns relating to this year’s festival, they can call the Council’s hotline number on (0207) 1952091 which is open from 7am Wednesday, August 24th until midday Monday, August 29th. Before and after the festival, residents with concerns or queries can call Reading Borough Council on (0118) 937 3737.”

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