Steve Brine has spoken out strongly about his backing for Boomtown Fair, the popular music and arts festival hosted each Summer at the Matterley Bowl near Winchester.
The Winchester MP, who has attended Glastonbury regularly since he was young, wrote in his regular Hampshire Chronicle column how growing up around the festival circuit gives him a balanced view and added insight into what really goes on.
He wrote: "First and foremost, we were all teenagers once and thousands of young people living locally safely enjoy Boomtown and the opportunity to see acts such as the Gorillaz, Ziggy Marley and The Specials just up the road."
He said he is acutely aware that Boomtown adds 'significantly' to the local economy as thousands of visitors come through the city spending money. In addition, Boomtown raises huge amounts for local charities, such as Air Ambulance, Trinity, Naomi House and Street Reach, and the MP cautions against those who pop up on TV to criticise the festival with one hand while taking the Boomtown shilling with the other.
Boomtown is subject to stringent licensing and noise regulation, and having spent time on-site in the control room, Steve explained that he knows organisers are clear how seriously the local community views the terms of their licence.
He also revealed that he 'did not for one moment' skirt over the danger or tragic deaths from previous years, least of all with young children himself, and he has spoken to parents who have lost children, but is clear the problem will not go away if we bury our heads in the sand.
He said: "As the local MP, and as Public Health Minister, I am glad the organisers are committed to working on ways we can use an event that captures the attention of young people in a way we cannot – to talk frankly about the dangers of drug use.
"The recent film Boomtown released about their harm-reduction programme – and on-site 'loop' testing programme – was a landmark piece of work. I think there is now a huge evolution in the festival world and a chance for it to step up and finally realise the public health potential of our growing festival industry."
Pictured; Steve joins the team in the control room
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