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Council staff hard at work as music's biggest party comes to town

12 June 2017

With one of the world's biggest parties set to take place in Mendip later this month, the council's staff are preparing to do their bit to ensure the event passes off as safely as possible.

Mike Berry

Each year, a town the size of Bath temporarily sets up camp in the middle of the beautiful Mendip countryside for one of the world's most famous music festivals - Glastonbury.

A huge amount of work goes into making the festival a success and there are now just weeks until around 203,000 people descend on Worthy Farm in Pilton.

One of the busiest council teams over the festival week is the Environmental Health team.

For Senior Environmental Health Officer, Michael Berry, this will be the 14th year he has worked at the legendary music festival.

Michael (pictured) can walk an incredible 117km (72miles) during the festival as he carries out a wide range of duties.

Below, Michael explains what a typical shift at the festival involves:

8.30am - "I arrive at the council offices at the Shape Mendip Hub in Shepton Mallet to get a lift to the festival site. This is when I'll put on my wellies or sun cream, depending on the weather forecast. Usually for Glastonbury I need both!"

9am - "Once on siteI'll talk to the teams who have been working overnight to find out if there have been any problems or, hopefully, that everything is running smoothly. There have been occasions where we've had to ask the festival organisers to look at certain areas of the site where, particularly in the evening, there have been pinch points which have made it hard for people to move around. It's certainly not all negative though - the festival organisers work extremely hard to make sure everything runs smoothly and any problems are dealt with quickly, so I'll always make sure we give positive feedback to the festival as much as possible."

10am - "I'll attend a health and safety meeting with staff from the festival where we'll identify any issues or problems that need to be looked at."

10.30am - "I'll then head out on site and carry out checks on a range of different things, like talking with the campsite crews to check there's no overcrowding and that people are spread across all the different camping areas. I'll also check that entry at the different pedestrian gates is running smoothly and that water is flowing from all standpipes. I also have to make sure that there are no serious issues with the festival's infamous toilets - not one of my most glamorous jobs!"

1pm - "Time for lunch, so I'll either grab a bite to eat at event control - where the council's team is based - or out around the site. There are around 400 food stalls on site, so I'm spoilt for choice."

2pm - "Time to check in with the hard working team at the medical tent to find make sure there haven't been any serious injuries. Sunburn, sprains and the occasional broken ankle are about as bad as it usually gets. Someone once went to the medical tent to report that they thought they were a giraffe! I'm not sure how they dealt with that one..."

3pm - "Further checks of the site, while constantly communicating with other council officers working around the site to make sure I'm always aware of any issues that have arisen and may need to be dealt with."

5pm - "Return to event control to review what's happened over the day and brief the night team before they head out on their evening shift."

6pm -"Travel back to council offices before driving home for a well-earned shower!"

It's a busy and tiring day's work, but Michael says he wouldn't want it any other way.

"It's great fun," he said. "There are always different challenges but at the end of the day you're working at one of the world's biggest music festivals, which can't be bad, can it?"

Councillor Nigel Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood and Community Health Services, said: "The Glastonbury Festival has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best music festivals on the planet and means that for a few days each year the eyes of the world are on Mendip.

"To have such a high-profile event staged at the centre of the district is fantastic news for local businesses as the thousands of festival goers who visit Mendip spend millions of pounds both on and off site, leading to a huge boost for the local economy.

"But while thousands of revellers are enjoying themselves at the festival our staff are hard at work behind the scenes, working with festival organisers to check everything from food and noise to litter and unlicensed vehicles, and working to reduce the impact the festival can have on residents living in the immediate area.

"We have an excellent working relationship with the festival organisers and all of the partners involved in the running of the event, which is what helps to make it one of the best music festivals in the world."

Did you know that:

  • We ensure 400 food stalls on-site are inspected to make sure they are preparing and serving food safely.
  • Noise experts from the council ensure festival organisers monitor the output from nearly 100 stages, venues and sound systems which have a total power of 650,000 watts - the same as 13,000 home stereos. Glastonbury's main pyramid stage has 250 speakers alone.
  • Our teams ensure there is enough space and facilities to house the tens of thousands of campers on-site.
  • We make sure the festival organisers have plans in place to manage the infamous Glastonbury toilets, of which there are 4,000, as well as the site's water supplies, including three reservoirs holding an incredible 3,000,000 litres of water.
  • Whether it's smell, smoke, litter, light or music, the council is on hand to check that the organisers' plans are being adhered to.
  • Organisers have to ensure they stick to the rules of a noise management plan, which they agree with the council before running the event.
  • The council's work at the festival is paid for by festival organisers through the costs of applying for and maintaining a licence.
  • Among the other tasks for the council are ensuring festival organisers adhere to health and safety regulations, inspecting taxi and private hire cars with the police, checking unlicensed vehicles, cracking down on unauthorised alcohol sales, monitoring temporary camp sites and food sellers and cracking down on unauthorised charity collectors
  • The council also works with festival organisers to monitor the off-site campsites that have developed around the festival site, to ensure they are being organised safely and minimising the impact on neighbours.
Last modified: 12 June 2017