Mu­sic, fun . . . and con­tro­versy

Llanelli Star - - NEWS - Robert Dalling @Robert­Dalling 01792 545545 [email protected]­line.co.uk

IT was the fes­ti­val which was so good that young­sters from as far afield as New Zealand and Aus­tralia just had to be there.

It at­tracted some of the big­gest names in mu­sic and thou­sands of stu­dents wanted to be a part of it.

And the best thing about it all? For many peo­ple in Wales, it was on the doorstep.

Beach Break Live, or­gan­ised by Stu­dent Seed Ltd, was held at Pem­brey Coun­try Park for three con­sec­u­tive years af­ter mov­ing to Wales in 2010, and at­tracted star names in­clud­ing Chase and Sta­tus, Dizzee Ras­cal, Calvin Har­ris, El­lie Gould­ing, Tinie Tem­pah, Labrinth, Friendly Fires and Vam­pire Week­end.

In 2011, the line-up in­cluded an in­die new­comer who man­aged to break two gui­tar strings dur­ing his set, and was so im­pressed by the line-up that he stayed for as many acts as pos­si­ble. His name was Ed Sheeran.

Also on the line-up that year was New­ton Faulkner, who re­vealed he had no idea where he was, hav­ing trav­elled overnight to get to Pem­brey, de­scrib­ing the fes­ti­val as hav­ing a “good vibe and a chilled out crowd”.

As well as the mu­sic, the fes­ti­val took ad­van­tage of the stun­ning coast to host wake­board­ing, kite-surf­ing and beach par­ties.

It was hailed as “the most ex­cit­ing thing to ever be held” at the West Wales park, and lo­cal busi­nesses ben­e­fited tremen­dously.

Ron Cant was the press of­fi­cer for Beach Break Live while he worked for Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil at the time, and he said: “It was the most ex­cit­ing thing to hap­pen to Pem­brey Coun­try Park,” he said.

“A lot of peo­ple for­get the part the beach played in Beach Break Live, the or­gan­is­ers put snow on to the ski slope so stu­dents could take part in an alpine fest on the ski slope, which has never been done be­fore or since.

“The con­certs were tremen­dous and you had some pretty big stars there. El­lie Gould­ing ap­peared there. I have spo­ken to her since P embr e y and she has said she will al­ways re­mem­ber it be­cause it was her first op­por­tu­nity to per­form in an open air con­cert. Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil still re­ceives mes­sages and still gets vis­i­tors to the park who were stu­dents when they went to the event and now have fam­i­lies of their own. At the time, they had no idea the park ex­isted and it made a mark on them.

“The in­come to the author­ity was about £70,000 to £80,000, no great deal, but the ben­e­fits could not be es­ti­mated in terms of good­will and the op­por­tu­nity to reach peo­ple who would be go­ing on to big things in many dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sions.” But that was not the whole story.

The event was dogged with con­tro­versy through­out. And

it even­tu­ally led to its exit from the area.

Fre­quent ac­cu­sa­tions of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour, lit­ter and drug abuse were all lev­elled at stu­dents.

Noise was also some­thing many took ex­cep­tion to, with one res­i­dent even liken­ing it to “the apoc­a­lypse”.

In 2010, we reported how of­fi­cials said wouldbe sabo­teurs of the Beach Break Live event stashed drugs, cut off wa­ter sup­plies and cir­cu­lated false ru­mours of fa­tal­i­ties in a bid to scup­per the event.

A wa­ter pipe was sev­ered with a hack­saw, leav­ing the 12,500 ticket hold­ers with­out toi­let and wash fa­cil­i­ties, and op­po­nents of the event were ac­cused by the author­ity of be­ing be­hind the sab­o­tage.

It got off to a bad start be­fore the first event was even staged.

Cam­paign­ers forced a four-day Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil hear­ing in April 2010, two months be­fore the first event in June of that year, and threat­ened to take the even­tual de­ci­sion to give it the goa­head to the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights.

By March 2013, enough was enough, and the event was re­lo­cated to Corn­wall.

In a state­ment on its web­site, Beach Break Live said at the time: “We’re rein­vent­ing the idea of a fes­ti­val and tak­ing Beach Break Live home while we’re at it - back to the Corn­wall trop­ics.

“We want to give you more than just mu­si­cians on a stage. We want to give you an ex­pe­ri­ence with­out bound­aries, some­thing to­tally unique, a mu­sic hol­i­day where ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble.

“At Pem­brey we couldn’t do that, there were too many re­stric­tions stop­ping us from cre­at­ing the Beach Break dream to the fullest ex­tent.”

Re­flect­ing on the event, Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil’s head of leisure Ian Jones said: “Pem­brey Coun­try Park played host to very suc­cess­ful Beach Break Live events.

“As well as bring­ing young peo­ple to­gether and in­tro­duc­ing them to the park’s nat­u­ral beauty, the event gen­er­ated sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue which helped sus­tain its up­keep. The events also had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the lo­cal econ­omy.”

Above: Gpho­tog­ra­phy.org.uk / left: Jonathan My­ers

Above, the fes­ti­val crowd at Beach Break Live in June 2012. Left, the crowd in the rain in 2011.

Pic­ture: Jonathan My­ers

James Evans and Jess Thomas from Llanelli danc­ing at Beach Break Live 2012.

Ed Sheeran.

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