Organisers apologise for ‘parking chaos’ at Audley End House concerts

A concert at Audley End House and Gardens. Picture: ARCHANT

A concert at Audley End House and Gardens. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The organisers of the Heritage Live concerts at Audley End House have admitted they “fell short” of expectations after complaints were made about “car parking chaos” and the state of the toilets.

John Osborne wrote to English Heritage about the “terrible day out” for him and his family on July 15 when they went to see Tokio Myers and 2Cellos at Audley End House and Gardens, in Saffron Walden.

In the letter to English Heritage the day after the event, Mr Osborne said: “The experience was the worst day out my family has had for years.

“We arrived outside the venue from the Great Chesterford direction at 5.30pm in plenty of time to see Tokio Myers at 7.30pm.

“Traffic management directed us to continue in a forward direction and follow the ‘event’ signs. We were directed along small country lanes where we were bumper to bumper and eventually reached the car park two-and-a-half hours later.

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“At 8pm, we then had to walk carrying our chairs etc to the field to see the performance - our first priority was the nearest toilet to the car park which was closed. At the main field the portable toilets were, words fail me, let’s just say 0 out of 10.

“By the time we were seated it was 8.30pm and Tokio Myers was just finishing. We did however enjoy the 2Cellos.

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“We left slightly early to avoid a repeat of earlier car parking chaos, which I understand was equally bad. Overall a terrible day out, dominated and spoilt by the traffic management system, or lack of it.

“Audley End House and Gardens is obviously a large site. As a first time visitor I got the impression it was the first time they have ever hosted any event.”

In response, English Heritage apologised and said it was “really concerned” about Mr Osborne’s complaint, adding that they had received several other complaints about the concerts.

Jenny Mayer, English Heritage head of historic properties for the East of England, said: “We are very sorry to hear about Mr Osborne and his family’s experience. And we are really concerned by both this complaint and several others we have received.

“This concert at Audley End was an independent event organised by GCE Live who were responsible for all aspects of it, including parking and toilet facilities.

“We have raised both our concerns and those of concert attendees with GCE Live and we will be taking all the feedback we receive into consideration before planning similar events in future.”

GCE Live admitted it had fallen short of working diligently and safely to get everyone on the site as quickly as possible.

A spokesman for GCE Live said: “Our endeavours to bring back live music to Audley End House after a five-year absence was met with great success for the thousands of music fans who enjoyed what were three brilliant evenings of entertainment.

“However, we realise that such a large influx of patrons in cars mixed with a limited road infrastructure created unnecessary bottlenecks, causing understandable frustration, for which we apologise. As much as wardens and stewards worked diligently and safely to get everyone on site as quickly as possible, we fell short.

“Working with our partners, we will ensure that future events are met with much more robust systems so patrons can fully enjoy the evening without unnecessary queuing.”

English Heritage said it was working with GCE Live and box office agents to ensure that all customer enquiries are dealt with as efficiently as possible but the quickest way for customer enquiries to be responded to is to contact the ticket provider in the first instance as they alone hold the details of the booking.

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