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One Love Festival is latest to pull out from Hop Farm

By Paddock Wood Courier  |  Posted: December 14, 2012

By Mary Harris mary.harris@courier.co.uk

  • One time Only: 2012's One Love Festival was the first and last to be held at the Hop Farm

  • PULLING OUT: Dan Wiltshire, One Love Festival organiser

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THE UK's leading reggae festival is the latest large-scale event to leave the Hop Farm, with organisers blaming a catalogue of problems at the venue.

The announcement about the One Love Festival comes just a week after the War and Peace show ended its 25-year association with the attraction.

The One Love Festival drew 3,500 people last year, the first time it had been at the Hop Farm.

It is moving to Essex next year, with managing director Dan Wiltshire claiming it had been a "victim of the venue".

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The noise restrictions – which saw Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council warn organisers nine times – were so harsh, Mr Wiltshire said, the Hop Farm would be better off "holding silent discos and comedy".

He claimed:

They were asked to switch fields with just three days' notice

He was told to turn down music to avoid disturbing a wedding

Litter and churned ground was left from previous events

Electricity was cut twice with no explanation

The opening was delayed by 40 minutes because organisers were only told two hours before to fence off a stream area because of a death two weeks earlier

Mr Wiltshire said: "The event was a huge success publicly, everything seemed fine and everyone really enjoyed it. It was behind the scenes where all the problems occurred. The land around the Hop Farm is so flat and it is such a quiet place."

Hop Farm sales and marketing director Miguel Fenton said it was the venue's decision not to hold the festival again.

He said: "In the case of the 2012 One Love Festival and a couple of other events held at the Hop Farm, we have communicated to the organisers that we would not see them as part of our future plans.

"The Hop Farm values its licence and local resident opinion and relies on the event organisers to keep within the boundaries of the licence as stated in the contracts that are agreed with them. Where there has been a clear breach, we have taken action."

He added: "The Hop Farm will shortly be announcing an exciting calendar of events for 2013 which are being created using nationally-known promoters, and that will be of great benefit to Kent."

This year the council received 54 complaints about noise from the Hop Farm. It confirmed it had "pressed organisers" to fence off the section of unguarded water ahead of the reggae festival.

Organisers of the War and Peace Show, which this year attracted 110,000 people, said they left the Hop Farm because the event had become "tired" and showgoers had criticised the facilities.

In September two performances by singer Leonard Cohen were mysteriously pulled at the last minute. Later that month the three-day Hop Farm Festival was thrown into jeopardy when the company behind it called in administrators.

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