Every year, thousands of ardent ‘80s music fans – clad in brightly-coloured legwarmers, slogan T-shirts and Ra-ra skirts (for the ladies) – flock to Perthshire’s Scone Palace in a flash of neon to roll back the years at the Rewind Festival.
For lovers of artists like Adam Ant, Rick Astley, Toyah and, of course, Scotland’s own Big Country plus all the other doyens of that bygone – but not forgotten – music scene, it is the the highlight of their year.
But, now in its sixth year, festival director David Heartfield, who also stages two more Rewind events in England, as well as South Africa, Dubai and Bangkok, says the extortionate cost to police the Scottish event “defies logic”.
In Scotland, he said, it costs him double the amount for police, marshalling, security and medical cover than south of the border.
He explained: “In the UK we have three Rewind festivals – two in England one in Scotland. There are no police charges in England because the festival is not considered a risk. But we do have charges in Scotland – and they’re extortionate. And it’s the same with medical cover. In England there’s no aversion to you hiring private companies for medical cover at festivals, whereas in Scotland you are pushed down the route of the Scottish Ambulance Service – and the cost is double that of going privately.
“By the time you add it all up, with the additional cost for artists – when in Scotland we do try to use local artists, but a lot of the time artists are based down south, or abroad, so the travel costs can be quite high – it’s quite a sum. It defies logic.”
Heartfield would not disclose the total cost for Rewind Scotland, but admitted it is a “significant” amount. “We’re talking tens of thousands,” he said.
But rest assured, Scots ‘80s fans, Heartfield has no plans to up –sticks. But he did warn that the huge price tag could deter other festival organisers from holding events in Scotland.
“We’re fortunate because we are so well supported, so I wouldn’t say the costs have put me off holding the festival in Scotland,” he said. “Scone Palace is an amazing venue and that festival in particular is hugely popular. However, I think these high costs could deter others from holding music festivals in Scotland, especially for those who are just starting out. The price tag is not encouraging; events bring a vast amount of money into an area. For example, during Rewind Scotland, every taxi, hotel and restaurant is full, so why don’t the authorities support this, rather than tax us for generating all of this?”