Will Latitude Festival go ahead this summer?

Latitude 2018.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Latitude 2018. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The organiser of Latitude has said he has "greater confidence" the festival will go ahead this summer after Boris Johnson delayed 'freedom day'.

Appearing on Chris Evans' Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio, Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, claimed discussions were ongoing with the Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport about underwriting insurance if restrictions are not eased on July 19 as planned.

He said: "Instantaneously we are all super depressed about the announcement on Monday even though we knew and could see it was coming, but the more you reflect on it the better the decision was.

Latitude bosses announce new acts for Latitude festival 2013.Festival Boss Melvin Benn on the Henh

Latitude Festival boss Melvin Benn. - Credit: Nick Butcher

"What they will do is really clamp down on closing the spread of the Delta variant and protecting everybody and it means that we are less likely to be in a stop-start position for the rest of the summer.

"For me, it puts greater confidence in the rest of the summer."

While the planned easing of restrictions on July 19 would allow festivals to go ahead after that date - with Latitude scheduled in to start days later on July 22 - concerns about further delays could prevent organisers being able to plan effectively.

Mr Benn said: "All of our costs are in the next three weeks and if he then changes his mind we are slightly stuck really.

"They basically have to underwrite our insurance and the DCMS are telling us they are really close to getting the Treasury to sign off.

Most Read

"The DCMS are playing a blinder for us, but it is like a kid going to their dad for increased pocket money.

Latitude 2018.Picture: Nick Butcher

Latitude 2018. - Credit: Nick Butcher

"The Treasury have got to focus on it and get it sorted out and if they can't, they need to put everything into testing status so we can do what we can do this weekend."

Festival Republic will run another pilot event with Download Festival this weekend, where 10,000 festival-goers will have to take a lateral flow test before they arrive, while staff will also be regularly tested.

Mr Benn said: "We did it in Liverpool and it was amazing. 58,000 people came to events and there was hardly any spread of the virus. It was proven effectively that it was no more dangerous than going to the supermarket, it was probably safer.

"From that point on my mantra became 'festivals save lives'."

Latitude at Henham Park in Suffolk.People arriving in the sunshine to set up camp on the first day

Latitude at Henham Park in Suffolk. - Credit: James Bass