Festival tickets: Price cut decision ‘not caused by panic’
TOWN hall boss Trevor Holden has denied that a decision to slash the prices of the Love Luton festival tickets was caused by panic over ticket sales.
With just three weeks to go until the £1.17 million event, Luton Borough Council decided this week to drop the ticket price from £32 to £15.
Luton Today understands that prior to the price cut, between 800 and 900 tickets had been sold for Friday and just over 1,000 had been sold for Saturday, with around 70 weekend tickets sold.
Chief exec Mr Holden said the council had not panicked but had received feedback that prices were too high while distributing Olympic torch route tickets over the past two weeks.
He said: “People welcome this event but they say the prices are too high. It’s not the council’s area of expertise – lots of external advisors were brought in.
“The benefit of hindsight is fantastic. We can speculate as to whether we should have had a different price but it’s an academic debate.”
People who have already bought tickets for the Popes Meadow events – being headlined by The Wanted on Friday, July 6 and Olly Murs on Saturday, July 7 – won’t get any money back.
Those who bought tickets before June 13 will not receive a £17 refund but will instead receive equivalent extra tickets for free which can be used for either night.
For example, someone who has bought four tickets for the Friday night will receive another four tickets.
The council is insured against a ‘worst case scenario’ loss of £300,000 on the £1.17 million festival event, which also includes the carnival, mela and the Olympic torch relay.
It had initially been anticipated that the event would generate a £20,000 profit.
Mr Holden said a clause in the artists’ contracts prevented the council from releasing information on ticket sales, and that the council could compensate for the drop in ticket price by “reducing infrastructure costs elsewhere”.
He said he was confident the event was going to be a success, adding: “Where else can you enjoy these headline acts in a carnival environment for £15?
“We know the remaining tickets will be snapped up so I encourage everyone to act quickly to avoid disappointment.”
The expenditure for the concert was approved by the council’s Labour-run executive committee in January.
Yesterday (Thursday, June 14), council leader Hazel Simmons said: “The council needed to put in place the infrastructure – staging and crowd barriers for example – for the Olympic torch relay through the town on July 8 and 9, so it is logical to stage another event at the same time.
“Following extensive market research – asking visitors to the Mall if they would be interested in a festival and about ticket price – we decided to stage a weekend festival.
“Ticket sales were initially brisk, but have not been what we have hoped at this point and what the market research had indicated.
“We have listened to the people of Luton and, also recognising that we are in difficult economic times, we have dropped the ticket price.
“The Olympic torch events are free and I hope that together with the concerts, the entire Love Luton festival will be a success for the town.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for local people and we hope that ticket sales will pick up and this will be a very special occasion for the town.”
Lib Dem deputy group leader Martin Pantling said: “Only Luton Borough Council could end up with late bird tickets offering far better value for money than early bird ones.
“We can only now hope for a successful and well attended event that doesn’t cost the council a significant sum. If it does, Labour will have put other services at risk.”
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Weather for Luton
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 26 mph
Wind direction: North