T IN THE PARK received a secret injection of government money just days before opening its gates this year, it has been revealed.
Ministers bankrolled the festival to the tune of £150,000, using public money to “help ensure the successful transition” of the event to its new site at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire.
The public cash was sent to festival bosses on July 2, just eight days before the 80,000 revellers arrived.
The secret “state aid”, was not made public in the run up to the event, which was plagued with teething problems at its new location.
Festival organisers DF Concerts are now facing calls for a review of the event before it will be allowed to return to the new site next year.
And taxpayers’ groups have accused the company – which earned £4.53 million last year – of “subsidising pop stars” with public cash.
Festival promoters originally approached the government for funding in May, after securing planning permission to hold the festival at the new site in Perthshire.
The festival, Scotland’s biggest, was forced to relocate from its long-time host site in Balado, Kinross-shire, owing to safety concerns over underground oil pipelines.
Council officials and politicians backed plans to hold the three day event at the new site, despite fears over anti social behaviour, traffic management and the environmental impact of the event.
But this year’s £194 weekend camping tickets failed to sell out, and organisers were forced to apologise after hundreds of complaints were made.
Revellers leaving the site were caught in traffic queues for hours, with one knocked down by a double-decker bus on Sunday.
Some ticket-holders also complained that there was insufficient space to camp, and others expressed security concerns after a bottle attack at the festival was caught on film.
A spokeswoman for the government defended the funding, saying: “T in the Park is one of Scotland’s most popular and successful annual cultural events, which last year generated £15.4 million for the Scottish economy.
“Recognising the economic and tourism benefits T in the Park delivers for Scotland, the Scottish Government invested £150,000 to support relocation of the event.”
A festival spokeswoman was unable to explain why DF Concerts had applied for financial assistance, but insisted that the festival would go ahead next year at the same site.
But Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, condemned the move, saying: “When we’re trying to make necessary savings, we have to prioritise where taxpayers’ money is spent.
“Subsidising pop stars looks fundamentally wrong when set against cuts being made in frontline services. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”
Liz Smith, Tory MSP for mid-Scotland and Fife, who called for a review of the festival, has also indicated that she will raise a series of questions about the funding deal in Scottish Parliament.
She said: “Whilst it is not unusual for festival events in Scotland to receive Scottish Government funding, it is very important that there is absolute clarity and transparency over the recent funding for T in the Park.”
“Given all the issues about this year’s festival it is vital that these answers are provided as quickly as possible. The taxpayer surely deserves to know the details.”