By Chris Lennon, News editor
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
THE organisers of the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert have apologised to fans who faced hours of chaos as they left Knebworth Park on Saturday night.
Long queues were reported as 55,000 people tried to leave the venue, after the Californian rock band’s set finished at 11pm.
Among the complaints were a lack of signs or stewards pointing fans – both in car and on foot – in the right direction and no lighting, meaning people had to try and find their way out of the Knebworth estate in pitch black.
Many were still stranded into the early hours and, with the last trains of the night having already departed Stevenage, the town’s Gordon Craig Theatre became an overnight shelter for those who could not get home.
Many fans took to Twitter on the night to tell the Welwyn Hatfield Times about the problems, and messageboards on www.whtimes24.co.uk were also flooded with complaints.
The concert was organised by Kilimanjaro, which has staged the three Sonisphere festivals at Knebworth – with no such problems reported on those occasions.
And today (Tuesday) Kilimanjaro CEO Stuart Galbraith spoke exclusively to the Welwyn Hatfield Times to say sorry to fans.
He said the concert was a “huge success”, and blamed the bad weather for playing its part in the problems over clearing the car parks.
Mr Galbraith said: “Weather conditions deteriorated significantly over the course of the day and this, plus other factors that ordinarily could have been overcome fairly easily made it difficult for our traffic management plan to run as we, Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Highways Agency had intended.
“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to those affected.”
He continued: “As is being widely reported, the UK has experienced some extreme weather conditions over recent weeks and these have resulted in severe disruption at other major events including the Isle of Wight festival and Live From Jodrell Bank in Manchester, which was cancelled on Sunday.
“Despite these conditions we were delighted we were still able to deliver an outstanding event at Knebworth Park as promised.”
Mr Galbraith added they were “extremely happy” their traffic plans worked well for fans coming into the venue in the afternoon.
“We have already started working with Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Highways Agency towards improvements for exit plans for future events.
“Fundamentally we can assure anyone concerned that while the exit did take longer than we had hoped for, all customers were ultimately able to leave the site within a few hours.”
A police spokeswoman said the force’s “priority” was the safety of members of the public.
She told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “With regards to traffic leaving the site we were continuously monitoring the issues and officers assisted stewards, who take the lead in directing people from the park.
“Some roads were closed in Stevenage to ensure pedestrians were safe and these were opened as quickly as possible. This didn’t impact on traffic leaving Knebworth Park.”