No festival ban for Hoon

ORGANISERS of the popular Suffolk music and arts festival Latitude have denied reports that they have banned Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon from buying a ticket to this year's event.

ORGANISERS of the popular Suffolk music and arts festival Latitude have denied reports that they have banned Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon from buying a ticket to this year's event.

A national newspaper stated this week that organisers had barred him from the eco-friendly event following the Government's decision to approve the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

But the founder of the summer festival Melvin Benn says that he intends to offer Mr Hoon, who he believes has attended the festival each year since it started three years ago, an incentive to reverse the decision.

'He hasn't been banned,' he said. 'Latitude is gaining a name as a very green festival and it is very much core to what we are doing. Certainly there's a strong argument to suggest that a third runway at Heathrow isn't a great idea, and what I did say is that it would be rather strange him being at such a green festival.'


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He added: 'It is probably an ambitious hope to persuade him that if I gave a lifetime ticket to him and his family then he would see it as sufficient reward not to go ahead with the third runway.'

He maintained that he would not stop Mr Hoon from attending independently, saying: 'If he buys a ticket, he buys a ticket.'

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The festival, which includes performances from live bands, actors and poets, boasted an impressive line-up last year which featured Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand and comedian Ross Noble.

Mr Benn said he was unable to confirm any names due to appear this year, but said he expected similar crowd numbers to the 2008 event, which attracted 25,000 people.

Organisers of the festival, which is held at Henham Park near Southwold, publicise it as a 'green' event and encourage revellers to arrive by public transport. Among its eco-friendly features are compost toilets, drinks served in re-usable cups and beer mugs, and carbon-neutral zones, where hydrogen fuel cells are used to supply power to some of the performance areas.

Mr Benn said he was thinking of introducing a carbon-offsetting programme, with visitors donating a fee to offset the damage caused by carbon emissions.

This year's festival dates have been confirmed as July 17, 18 and 19.

No-one from Mr Hoon's office was available to comment.

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