By Marcus Leach
With Glastonbury officially set to kick off festival season on Thursday, councils are anticipating a summer of live music will boost local economies to the tune of £550 million.
Local authorities across the country have been working behind the scenes with festival organisers for months to help guarantee huge outdoor events this summer run smoothly.
Hundreds of council workers will be hard at work to make sure the 3.4 million fans who attend a festival this summer will have no bigger headache than deciding which bands to see.
Highways teams will be overseeing traffic diversions, trading standards officers will be ensuring festival goers are not ripped off buying counterfeit merchandise and environmental health workers will be checking that beer, burgers and other festival food and drink is up to scratch and that waste collection and toilet arrangements are working as planned.
In addition to the major household name events, more than 100,000 people will enjoy free outdoor festivals this summer, with chart-topping acts lining up for council-organised events.
Despite budget cutbacks, many councils have been able to keep their own festivals running this year by enlisting the support of local businesses.
“Going to a festival has become a staple of the British summer for millions. Our thriving festival scene is something we as a country should be immensely proud of. It puts us on the map as a capital of culture and contributes hundreds of millions of pounds to the economy," Cllr Chris White, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said.
“Councils play a key role in supporting and running festivals for music lovers up and down the country. From the months of planning beforehand to the moment the last reveller leaves the campsite, local authorities are involved every step of the way.
“It’s a measure of the importance of these events that, even in these times of austerity, local authorities have gone to great lengths to keep their own music festivals going, in some cases enlisting commercial sponsors. The money put into these festivals will be returned many times over in the boost it will bring to the local economy and, in the longer term, inspiring a whole new generation of young musicians.”
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