Readers split over South Shields gigs remaining free

Bents Park concert-goers at one of the recent South Tyneside Summer Festival shows.
Bents Park concert-goers at one of the recent South Tyneside Summer Festival shows.

Paid entry into South Tyneside Summer Festival concerts are just the ticket for some Gazette readers – but a curse for others.

The free gigs staged at Bents Park in South Shields during July and August have proved a huge success.

I’d happily pay a few quid

Tom Heaney

More than 26,000 people turned out to watch the legendary Billy Ocean.

With money too tight to mention for the borough council, the question has been raised of whether an entry fee should be charged to boost the authority’s coffers.

Council bosses say that is not on the agenda, but will continue to monitor public opinion. And from the response on the Gazette’s website, that opinion seems pretty much divided.

Tom Heaney, an advocate of charging, posted: “What’s £1! When councils have had budgets cut and they’re providing large scale entertainment to increase visitors for local businesses then I’d of happily pay a few quid. The work they’re doing at the seafront and Market Square looks great!”

Also supportive was Sarah Ann, who added: “Imagine if we had all paid £1 this year. For one of the concerts there could have been in excess of £20,000.”

Less convinced was Joolz Foster-Goodwin, who said: “Only a matter of time before this started. £1 at first but before you know it’s a tenner!”

Charging a fee would “change the festival’s whole dynamic”, according to James Ward, who added: “Some people won’t like to pay so numbers will drop, but more significantly it will result in huge queues at each entrance of the park of people waiting to pay to get in. Most people won’t bother just to avoid the hassle.”

Keith Hunter said: “Where’s all the money coming from in the first place to pay for acts? Thought the council was millions in debt? Hmmmm, just a thought.”

“Leave it free. And parking should be free all over Shields,“ added Joey Davison.