Portlaoise councillor Noel Touhy has accused Electric Picnic organisers of “skimping”, but the festival has been stoutly defended by his colleagues.
“There’s a view that the promoters are resting on their laurels,” Cllr Touhy said at the September meeting.
“This year torrential rain turned the ground into a quagmire. There was a three hour wait for taxis, and toilets were overwhelmed. They started with big music but the impression is the promoters are skimping now. It’s less of a family event, the family campsite tickets were sold out in an hour. Would additional space not be made? That mix is vital to the atmosphere,” he said.
Cllr Paschal McEvoy who lives in Stradbally was askance at the criticism.
“I am lost for words, it’s the first I’ve heard of complaints regarding the way it’s run. The traffic management was excellent, the promoters meet anyone in the town, a committee was set up to meet anyone with complaints, I genuinely can’t understand. There was rain but you can’t bring in machinery among 55,000 people to spread bark mulch. It is probably one of the best run festivals. Tickets are sold out before the bands are mentioned so that must reflect well on its organisation,” he said.
Cllr Noel Touhy replied that it “got lax on a couple of hours in the last day”.
“It’s something to keep an eye on,” he said, adding that bands should be announced before tickets go on sale.
There was “no mention of any issue” to Laois County Council, said Director of Services Kieran Kehoe.
“As part of our function, we meet with the Gardaí, HSE and fire service, every day and on the Monday at 3pm to ensure people get out. At all those meetings, there was no mention of any issue. The only issue was that because of the wet weather, mammies and daddies were bringing home people for showers on Saturday and Sunday morning,” he said.
“I’m not raining on the parade. Points were made that it was a bit lax at the end of the final day,” insisted Cllr Tuohy, adding that the festival was “not his cup of tea”.
The Cathaoirleach Cllr Tom Mulhall said Electric Picnic “caters for all ages”.
“You don’t have to be young. Anyone I talked to enjoyed it immensely, we don’t want to be talking it down.”
Cllr Tuohy’s motion commended the local authority for helping with the organisation of the festival, but called on it as the licensing authority “to ensure the commitment of the highest standard of services and facilities to protect the safety and enjoyment of fans.”
“Investment should continue from the promoters with extra family tickets considered, as it is unique in this respect. Enhancement of hygiene facilities, access lanes and a high standard of services should continue in the interest of its reputation and enjoyment,” he added after.