Musicians move to allay fears over Sunderland’s Split Festival

Frankie Francis of Frankie and the Heartstrings.
Frankie Francis of Frankie and the Heartstrings.
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PERFORMERS planning to play at the Split Festival have invited concerned park custodians along to this year’s event in an effort to allay fears.

The Friends of Mowbray Park have said it could be damaged by the festival in August.

The group is concerned that with around 4,000 people expected during the weekend, the park could be badly damaged.

But the team behind the festival say steps will be taken to protect the Victorian park.

A firm that clears rubbish from large festivals has been employed and the number of stewards will increase from 12 to 40.

Frankie Francis, the frontman of Frankie and the Heartstrings, said the group should be reassured that the crowd enjoying Split will respect the surroundings and would give nearby businesses a boost.

He said: “We would encourage them to come along. It will be a great celebration in the heart of Sunderland.

“They might find something which interests themselves, there’s lots on, there’s great food on offer, stuff for children, so if they have grandchildren themselves, they could come along and take part in Tiny Tweeties, as that’s going to be on site.

“It’s important the people of Sunderland get behind Split. For too long we haven’t had something like this in the city and having a festival in a Victorian park will be great surroundings.

“There are so many businesses in the city centre who are crying out for business and it’s a great opportunity for the Friends of Mowbray Park to show off what they have.”

He added his band’s set will be the first time they have played to a home crowd since they set up the Pop Recs Ltd shop in Fawcett Street.

Barry Hyde, who is a co-founder of the festival and a board member of the organising committee, will be performing his own material away from his role in The Futureheads.

He said: “This is the first time we’ve had it in the city centre and in all honesty I think there are some good things happening, especially during the summertime.

“To have it in Mowbray Park is a huge deal for us and its such a cherished part of Sunderland.

“I think their concerns are based on a certain stereotype and we’ve had this several times and there have been no incidents when we had it at Ashbrooke. We are doing everything we can to limit damage and we don’t want to leave Mowbray Park a mess. There’s a huge amount of effort going into waste management.

“The people who are Futureheads fans are lovely people; we don’t have any lunatics coming to our gigs. We have some international artists coming this year, a lot of local musicians and businesses are coming along and it’s very much Sunderland-centric.

“We are trying to put on another event at the heart of Sunderland for the Mackems.

“It’s a shame they kicked up a fuss, but the park should be used for something like this and there have been other events.

“We will be working with them and will make sure they know the park will not be wrecked.”