Festival’s row with creditors

Food vendors lost out at last year's Parklands, reports Dominic Smith

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Traders who lost thousands of pounds after a company running a North Yorkshire music festival went bust last summer have reacted with dismay to a plan to revive the event this year, with organisers claiming it is the only way they will get their money back.

The operating company running Galtres Parklands Festival went into liquidation in October, owing approximately £120,000 to around 40 stallholders, with organisers blaming poor ticket sales during last year’s event at Duncombe Park in Helmsley for its financial collapse. But shortly after, a new company, Parklands Trading Ltd, was set up with the same board of directors. It said the festival – rebranded as Parklands – will run again this August bank holiday weekend.

That has angered many of those who were left out of pocket – largely local food vendors – with several advocating a boycott of this year’s event and urging performers such as headline act Badly Drawn Boy not to attend.

Electronic payment

But festival organisers say running the event in future years is the only way for traders to get their money back, although they have not revealed publicly how long they anticipate that will take.

They say that traders from last year will be allowed to keep all of their takings, with the usual 20 per cent commission deducted from money owed to them, and the commission fees from other traders will go also be distributed to last year’s attendees. Stallholders will be able to take cash from customers, to prevent a repeat of last year when an electronic payment system was used that prevented traders from having access to their takings.

In a lengthy Q&A on the festival’s website about why last year’s event failed and the decision to host it again, organisers say a boycott campaign “makes no sense to us, unless people are against the traders being repaid”, and that some traders had been “publicly hostile and abusive”, including one act of physical assault against a member of the festival management team.


Director James Houston said he was committed to making back the money owed to creditors, adding: “By continually spreading negativity in the way that they are it could become partly a self-fulfilling prophecy. By constantly saying it’s going to fail they’re more likely to damage its success. They can be sceptical but why they need to do that publicly I don’t understand.”

He claims that last year’s traders have been invited back this year, with only the one who allegedly assaulted a director told they cannot attend.

Neil Saunders, owner of Swirlz ice cream in Pocklington, who is owed around £3,000, said he received no such invitation to return – and even if he had, would not have attended. “Once bitten, twice shy”, he said.

“I think he’s being a bit delusional really. At the end of the day how would he feel if he was owed that kind of money and wasn’t going to get it? We all worked very hard that weekend for that money.

“It was awfully stressful. You think you’re going to have £3,500 in the bank and then I didn’t.”

“It really knocked us. That was a really good weekend for us,” said Aarti Ormsby of Manchester-based Indian street food company Chaat Cart, which is also owed around £3,000.

“That was one of our big events. Not only were we counting on that money to come in but we got hit by all the costs and had no way to cover it.”

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