Big Weekend: Luton Rugby Club 'sincerely sorry' as it's forced to refund 'unsanctioned' parking amid safety fears

Cars parked on street. Picture: Anne Nygård on UnsplashCars parked on street. Picture: Anne Nygård on Unsplash
Cars parked on street. Picture: Anne Nygård on Unsplash
Luton Rugby Club has apologised to Big Weekend festival goers after having to cancel their parking spaces following safety concerns raised by Luton Borough Council.

One Big Parking, which had advertised “hassle-free parking just moments away from all the action” at Stockwood Park, is refunding guests who had secured parking spots at the Luton Rugby Club site.

In an apology letter, Luton Rugby Club said: “We are sincerely sorry to have to cancel plans to allow parking at Luton Rugby Club due to the obstacles placed on us by both Luton Borough Council and Festival Republic.

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"We have tried all possible means to make the venture successful and have always had honourable intentions of both supplying the best service and offering parking adjacent to the venue itself. The resulting revenue was to raise funds for Luton Rugby Club who are an amateur sports club with a youth, mini and adult teams.”

But Luton Borough Council said that the safety of both road users and festival-goers is its main priority.

A spokesperson for the council said: “We are disappointed with the misleading information that has been posted online in relation to the unsanctioned parking that was being sold at Luton Rugby Club.

“Unfortunately this parking provision was set up and sold to customers without an agreed and workable solution with the festival organisers about how those who use the car park would then be able to access the festival site safely. One Big Parking were aware of the closure of the entrance of Lawn Path, as a public closure notice (which included Lawn Path) had gone live before they began to sell spaces.”

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But the club claimed it “honestly assumed” the route would remain open, and added: “It now seems madness to us that they [Lawn Path and a pedestrian bridge across the motorway] are to be closed. Despite various communications with both LBC and Festival Republic to request that they reconsider, they were not willing to compromise or listen to our reasoning. Repeatedly, we asked them to meet with us on the site to see for themselves, how perfectly placed it is for parking and our plans for securing safe access across the road for patrons but to no avail.”

The open letter added: “We are working to process refunds as soon as possible and assure you that everyone will receive their full refunds in due course.”

The council said it had “tried to review other options to make the parking provision work, however these all involved additional costs that One Big Parking were not prepared to pay or contribute towards”.

The council added: “While we were liaising with One Big Parking regarding the use of minibuses to transport customers from the Rugby Club to the venue, OBP made the decision to cancel their parking offer.”

As 100,000 music fans are set to come to Luton this weekend, Luton Borough Council has directed people to parking available in the town which can be found via this link.