We Are FSTVL could move from Upminster to Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 19:06 14 July 2020

We Are FSTVL has taken place in Upminster since 2013. Picture: April Roach

We Are FSTVL has taken place in Upminster since 2013. Picture: April Roach


A popular dance music festival could move from Upminster to Dagenham.

An application for a 10 year licence to bring We Are FSTVL to Central Park has been submitted to Barking and Dagenham Council, with an intention to hold the first event this September.

But this, documents state, is “subject to all necessary consents being obtained and to Covid–19 restrictions permitting”.

In subsequent years, six months’ written notice of the proposed event days will need to be given to the council and the police, according to the application.

The festival has taken place at Damyns Hall Aerodrome since 2013, with this year’s event - originally scheduled for May - postponed due to the pandemic.

The proposal for the rearranged 2020 event would see a maximum of 23,500 people permitted within the festival’s fenced perimeter on each day, including around 1,000 performers and staff.

That number may change in subsequent years due to improvement works taking place in Central Park.

The application, scheduled to go before Barking and Dagenham Council’s licensing sub-committee tomorrow (Tuesday, July 14) sees Springmerch, the company behind We Are FSTVL, seek permission to play both live and recorded music and to supply alcohol between 11am and 10.30pm on the days of the festival.

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Representations have been made by the police and council ahead of the planned meeting, with concerns raised about crime and safety as well as the viability of holding a major event during the pandemic.

A letter from senior licensing officer Richard Parkins said: “I am aware that the applicant is working hard to ensure that the 2020 festival can be made Covid-19 safe and that government guidance which might help inform this is expected before the scheduled event date, but I am mindful that currently the direction is that mass gatherings should not go ahead.

“So, while I look forward to seeing the arrangements that are proposed, currently I have real concerns as to whether it is possible to ensure that social distancing can be enforced with the numbers envisaged in a festival setting.”

In response, Reece Miller, on behalf of Springmerch, said that he understood the concerns but described the pandemic as an “evolving situation”.

He added: “If approval is not given, then the event will not go ahead.”

In a separate letter, included as part of the application, he wrote: “There have been relaxations of social distancing and further relaxations and steps to mitigate risk are planned in the next few weeks. We are aware that further guidance is to be issued specific to the event industry.

“In the circumstances, it is premature to suggest that a decision should be made now to prevent the event in 2020 going ahead.”

Support came from Ensign Buses, which has provided transport from Upminster station to Damyns Hall Aerodrome for previous festivals. For Central Park, the submission indicates a shuttle bus between Barking station and Yew Tree Avenue, near Dagenham East station.

No objections were made by the ward councillors, with it also highlighted that last year’s Defected London festival - linked to We Are FSTVL - took place in Central Park “largely without incident”.

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