May 25 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Overcrowding and safety fears force cancellation of concert featuring Snoop Dogg
Overcrowding and health and safety fears led to the shutdown of one of the Britain’s largest electronic music festivals at the Pleasure Gardens in Silvertown.
Organisers called in extra police to help ease thousands away from the Royal Victoria Docks site in the early hours of this morning.
Some of the biggest acts in electronic dance music had been brought together at the London Pleasure Gardens in the Royal Victoria Docks.
The US rapper Snoop Dogg was billed to headline in the early hours of Saturday morning, while Orbital were later tonight. The annual festival, which celebrates electronic music, started in 2007, and this is the first time it has taken place in London.
A statement on the Bloc 2012 website said: “By now everyone will have heard that Bloc 2012 was closed due to crowd safety concerns. We are all absolutely devastated that this happened, but the safety of everyone on site was paramount. Given the situation on the ground, we feel that it was the right decision to end the show early.”
But a number of angry festival goers lambasted Bloc 2012 on Twitter as a “disaster” and a “car crash” as its own official feed continued to generate tweets as if the event at the Royal Victoria Docks was proceeding without hitches.
Tickets had ranged in price from £55 to £125 and Friday night had been described on the event’s official website as a sellout.
Respected journalist at the New Musical Express NME’s Louis Pattison, who was at Bloc, said: “The site was far too small for the numbers of punters who’d got in - all the tents were full with large queues outside, so festival-goers had nowhere to go but add to the queues. Security arrangements seemed inadequate and staff overwhelmed.”
He said that by 9pm last night, every venue on the 60,000 square-metre site was surrounded by a huge queue. Two hours later, he said that outside the Resident Advisor stage was “like a stampede”. Around this time, the festival’s main stage was shut down and word spread that Snoop Dogg’s set had been cancelled - though there was no official announcement from Bloc’s organisers.
London Pleasure Gardens, the venue holders, issued a statement saying: “We can confirm that this morning at 00:45, following advice from the Metropolitan Police, Bloc was subject to a controlled shut down due to health and safety concerns. Our number one concern is always public safety, and sometimes tough decisions need to be made by on-site security, but we always act as we believe is necessary at the time to best protect visitors.”
Scotland Yard said they supported the organisers’ decision to close the event.
A spokesman said there were safety concerns and the rain meant many people were trying to get inside tents to shelter. They worked together to get people away from the site.
A Newham Council spokesman said: “We support the decision to call an early halt to the event. People’s safety has to be the priority.”
One concert goer contacted the Recorder to say: “There was a strange sense of relief when the cancellation was announced, because it was so awful we’d been given an excuse to go home. Once we’d left the site there was frustration because it was difficult for people to start to go home.”
But he said the audience remained well behaved.
A statement from London Pleasure Gardens a short time ago said: “At 12.45am on Saturday morning, following advice from the Metropolitan Police, Bloc was subject to a controlled shut down due to crowd safety issues. Egress from the site was carefully managed and nobody was harmed throughout the process. By 2 am the site was clear.
“The decision to cancel the event’s second day was taken to ensure public safety as a measure against the potential for more overcrowding. “The BT River of Music Africa stage, which will be using a completely different site layout and is not affected by the same issues, will be going ahead as planned on Sat July 21 and Sun July 22.
Garfield Hackett and Debs Armstrong, co-directors of LPG, said in a joint statment: “We are hugely disappointed that Bloc Festival had to close early last night and has been cancelled today. We are fully investigating what happened and will provide further information when we are in a position to do so. We thank our staff for dealing with the issue in a manner which ensured that the site was cleared safely.”
All ticket refund requests should be addressed directly to Bloc (www.blocweekend.com )
* At the Pleasure Gardens opening weekend event last weekend, concert goers praised the acts and displays but were angry at having to face a constant stream of dust and sand in their eyes for hours. Police and Newham Council health and safety officers forced the start to be delayed for two hours until working CCTV was installed.