Taxpayers bonus from Rod Stewart concert

It looks like Council taxpayers will get a boost from those parking locally at the Rod Stewart concert which is being held on the Knavesmire on Saturday 1st June.

The Council will get the profits from car parking as the event falls outside the terms of the existing Racecourse lease.

Rod Stewart holds the official record attendance for a (free) outdoor concert. 3.5 million attended his gig at Copacabana beach in Rio a few years ago.

Rather fewer are expected to make their way to the Knavesmire in June

That TdF concert flop

3 years later the Council finally admits what went wrong

£185,000 loss on the Grand Departy

The investigation report, into failings in the running of events connected with the Tour d France’s visit to York in July 2014, has finally been published.

It reveals a catalogue of poor management decisions and bad communications together with a risky approach to the use of taxpayer’s money.

An investigatory team say that neither the former Council Leader nor Chief Executive had been prepared to give evidence to their Inquiry.

The report is heavily critical of the process used to try to establish a camping site on Monk Stray.

The scale of public opposition to use of the area had been under-estimated while previous licensing and planning applications results had been ignored. Basic errors such as quoting the wrong post code for the site had gone undetected. In the end, the plan was abandoned with camping facilities concentrated near the Millennium Bridge

The focus of concern was the “Grand DeParty” concert. The Inquiry confirmed that the event was conceived as a fund raiser but was only formally agree as late as April 2014. It was announced that 10,000 tickets would be sold at £25 each producing a profit of £150,000.

However, the external management consultants said in April 20154 that it was “far too late for an event date of 4th July

Subsequently an external provider (Cuffe and Taylor) were engaged to organise the concert but using an approach which “was highly informal; there was no clear evidence of a tendering process and the arrangement breached CYC procurement rules”.

No waiver to the rules was obtained.

The report goes on to say,

The Task Group found no evidence of any analysis of where the concert audience might come from following the loss of the Monk Stray campers. Without that analysis, but concerned about preserving ‘our reputation as a city’, the Strategic Lead decided to continue with the concert after discussing this with the Chief Executive and others.

At this point, the emphasis changed from one of balancing the books to getting people to come.

From 10 June 2014, tickets were being sold at half price, and in the last few days; free tickets were offered to staff, partners and local armed forces personnel”.

The Task Group found that negative reports about the concert appeared in local print and broadcast media, besides being promoted by an excouncillor on social media.

This and poor ticket sales meant that attendance was very poor – press reports estimated this at around 1500, far below what had been hoped for. Officers later conceded in hindsight that the concert line-up was wrong and a mix that was intended to appeal to everyone in the end appealed to very few.

There were concerns about safety at the event, which were exacerbated by publication of the minutes of the SAG’s post-concert review meeting”.

“It was not clear where the political responsibility for the concert lay until sometime after the event”. The Inquiry concluded that the Council Leader James Alexander was accountable for the concert arrangements.

Most of those responsible have now left the York Council.

The Council has said that a new Project Management Framework will ensure that similar mistakes are not made in the future

Lib Dems call for ‘Grand Départy’ Inquiry as minutes of safety committee raise further concerns

Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for an inquiry into the ‘Grand Departy’ music concert as part of a cross-party scrutiny review.

Meanwhile the minutes of two meetings of the Councils Safety Advisory Group have confirmed that there was internal concern about the organisational arrangements for the concert.

Safety committee meeting July 2014 Click to read original minutes

Safety committee meeting July 2014 Click to read original minutes

The minutes suggest that, had the target audience numbers actually attended, then safety concerns could have been high.

The minutes of the meetings can be read by clicking the links below.

Safety Advisory Committee 30th June 2014 (pre concert)

Safety Advisory Group 23rd July 2014 (post concert)

 Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, has submitted an official request for a scrutiny review into the “planning, promotion and delivery” of council organised events for the Tour De France.

Last week it was revealed that City of York Council overspent its budget for the Tour by £60,000 with the ‘Events and Festivals’ programme losing taxpayers £252,000.

 The poorly received ‘Grand Departy’ music concert at Huntington Stadium was the single biggest loss. The event cost £206,000 to stage but disappointing ticket sales meant only £19,000 in revenue was brought in, producing an overall loss of £187,000.

 Cllr Cuthbertsoncommented:


Desperate Council halves Huntington Stadium concert ticket prices

Council concert organiser displays sense of humour

Council concert organiser displays sense of humour

As we revealed yesterday, the Tour de France concert, scheduled for the 4th July, is being snubbed by York residents.

Now the Council has halved the cost of a family ticket – down from £100 to £50.

The offer also includes a ticket to the Grand Depart event at the Racecourse and will run until Monday 16th June.

What residents who have already paid the full price for tickets will think of this discount remains to be seen.

The concert features a group called “Loveable Rogues

Tickets are on sale now from and, and will be available from Visit York on Museum Street in York city centre by Friday (13th June) of this week

The Council has declined to say how many tickets for the event have been sold to date.

Meanwhile it looks like Bradley Wiggins – expected to be one of the main attractions for those attending the  Tour de France start – may not now be competing this year

Huntington Stadium concert – license application submitted

click to go to list of applications published by the York Council

click to go to list of applications published by the York Council

The application for a license, necessary before the Russell Watson concert can take place on 4th July, has now been published on the York Council’s web site

Residents have until 5th June to record any objections to the 10,000 capacity concert planned for the Huntington Stadium.

The Huntington Stadium usually has a 4000 capacity limit for Rugby League matches.

Quite why this application has been submitted by the Council so late in the proceedings – and after the commencement of ticket sales had been announced – is something of a mystery.

It is reminiscent of the plan to hi-jack Monk Stray for use as a campsite for the Tour event; a proposal which led to widespread public concern and eventually the imposition of addition restrictions by the licensing committee.

The main concerns at Huntington are likely to revolve around traffic management issues and public safety management both inside and outside the stadium.

The event is being held on a Friday which is one of the busiest days of the week in the shopping centre and on surrounding roads.

If the Licensing Committee turned down – or imposed a lower crowd limit – on the event then it is unlikely that any appeal against such a decision could be considered in the remaining time available before the event was scheduled to take place.