Y Not Festival clear up underway after final day cancelled due to weather

While controversy around the cancellation of the final day of Y Not Festival blazes on salvage of items abandoned at the festival site at Pikehall has been undertaken by a team of volunteers from Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity.

Citing bad weather the festival announced early on Sunday morning (30 July) that the final day’s line-up was cancelled and asked gig-goers to begin leaving the site. Social media has been rife with tales from those who attended the festival of problems across the weekend beyond those caused by weather but rumours the licence was revoked have been denied by Derbyshire Dales District Council and Derbyshire police, who would be involved in any such decision. They say the decision was solely down to the organisers based on weather conditions with a spokesperson for Derbyshire Police telling the Derby Telegraph, “The decision was made by the festival organisers and the police assisted them in communicating the message and helping to get everyone off site safely.”

Rumours started circulating and seemed to grow when a video was posted by Dudey Rhino making claims the Y Not Festival licence was revoked on Saturday due to ‘humanitarian welfare concerns’. Despite the claims being false many have shared on social media how they felt the festival suffered from poor organisation and a lack of contingency for the expected bad weather. Complaints of lack of security, inadequate facilities as well as thefts – Derbyshire Police are currently investigating more than 60 reported on the site – are also being made by festival-goers on social media.

Y Not Festival organiser’s are yet to address the complaints being raised publicly but issued a new statement saying, “We completely share your frustration and disappointment that we had to cancel the remainder of the festival on Sunday morning. We understand that you will want to know about refunds. Please know that this is priority number one and there will be information about this soon.”

Organiser Jon Drape said the festival will return in 2018, telling BBC Newsbeat, “The feedback we’ve had from a large proportion of the customers has been very supportive.They completely understand what we were up against in terms of the conditions on site and we’re feeling quite a lot of love for the festival. The whole team on it [Y Not] is committed to delivering a festival next year and we’ll be back in 2018.”

He went on to say, “We’re currently in discussions with our insurers. The festival is insured for cancellation and abandonment and we’ll make an announcement in the coming days regarding refunds.”

Y Not Festival 2017 by Adam Burzynski at Strawberry Photographic

Meanwhile a team of volunteers from Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity headed to the site on Monday morning to salvage usable items from belongings abandoned on the site. The group teamed up with FWRD (Festival Waste Reclamation and Distribution) whose aim is to collect as many of useable and needed items as possible before the waste teams reach them, diverting them away from landfill and into the hands of the people who need them most, including refugees and the homeless.

The team salvaged tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, bedding and camping chairs as well as camping stoves, pots, cutlery, blow up mattresses, blankets, shoes, and clothes. A volunteer from Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity said, “Each summer in the UK thousands and thousands of festival-goers descend upon fields across the country to have a weekend of music and mayhem, and when they leave on the Monday morning many of them leave behind most of what they brought with them. This includes hundreds of tents, sleeping bags, items of clothing and tarpaulins, almost all of which end up in landfill or in an incinerator.

“Despite it being a very productive session, most of us felt that we’ve only managed to salvage a drop in the ocean of what was left behind by the festival goers. The vast number of belongings dumped in the fields was simply incomprehensible. We were all aware of organizational issues at this year’s YNOT festival and very poor weather conditions but according to FWRD these types of post festival landscapes are not uncommon.”

Y Not Festival campsite

The scene following Y Not Festival is not an unusual one at the end of a festival although conditions and early closure won’t have helped this weekend with many forced to leave items behind in the struggle to get off the site safely. But at music festivals across the UK many factor abandoned belongings into the overall cost of their weekend, seemingly with little consideration for environmental impact or the need of many for such items when attending a festival. At Glastonbury hundreds of litter-pickers remain on site for months after the festival picking through the items for anything that can be salvaged before recycling crews move in to clear the ground.

FWRD said, “Every year thousands upon thousands of tons of waste is created at U.K festivals, most of which will go to landfill or into an incinerator and a large part of this waste is perfectly usable survival equipment, shelter, bedding, food and clothing. This is happening all summer long across the U.K and in short there are a lot of people, such as homeless, refugees and many others who could really use the stuff that is being left behind, all that is missing are the proper channels to get it from waste to wish-list. We work with, or preferably just in front of, the clean up companies at festivals to salvage as many usable items as possible. These items will then be deep cleaned, sorted and given those who are in need, both local to the festival and further afield.”

The group also plan to work at V Fest in Chelmsford, Boomtown Fair, and Reading and Leeds Festivals this year.

Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity formed in 2015 as part of a grassroots movement working to provide aid and support to the growing number of refugees. They have been part of several convoys to Calais and Dunkirk as well as working with Muslims In Need to send aid containers direct to Syria.

The group has an ongoing collection for and is particularly looking for donations of blankets, sleeping bags, men’s trainers (size 7 to 10), new socks and men’s underwater (small to medium) and men’s clothes (small to medium) to help those in camps around Calais.

Items can be taken to the warehouse on Meadow Road in Derby (the OldTelegraph Building) each Thursday morning or every other Saturday by arrangement through their Facebook page. You can also arrange pick up via their website.

Find Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity:

Find the latest information from Y Not Festival:

Find out more about FWRD on their website.

Images by Adam Burzynski at Strawberry Photographic except campsite image by Samantha Hart.

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