Ombudsman throws out complaints about councillor who raised concerns over festival failings
A Wrexham councillor who supported local consumers and contractors who lost money on a festival event has had complaints about her to the Public Services Ombudsman thrown out.
Plaid Cymru’s Queensway Councillor, Carrie Harper had shared information from a group of residents who had set up a Facebook group to raise concerns about the Rock the Park festival on the outskirts of Wrexham.
The music festival originally took place in 2019 but was cancelled in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Although the event took place in 2023, it wasn’t without issue with festival goers making complaints about the glamping element of the festival, with many unable to get refunds despite services not being provided.
The online review site, Trip Advisor includes a string of complaints from customers branding the festival a “scam” after they chased refunds but received no response from organisers.
One reviewer said: “Requested a £585 refund in September 2022 as per the guidelines on their website. No response or refund despite further requests in November 22, January ’23 and July ’23.
“I am not alone in this plight, a Facebook page has been set up uniting others out of pocket. Lies have been told about no show acts. If you have been affected by no refunds please find RTP Issues on FB and request to join.”
Cllr Harper was contacted by a number of complainants, one of whome was responsible for setting up the Facebook page.
She said: “I’ve been contacted by many people who have struggled to get refunds from Rock the Park (RTP) events. One customer set up a facebook group called ‘RTP issues’ which now has several hundred members, many have shared concerns about how they’ve been treated by the organisers and that they’re still owed substantial amounts of money despite repeated attempts to get refunds.
“In addition I’ve also been contacted by contractors for the event who haven’t been paid for their services. They’ve also listed very serious safety concerns which I understand have now been passed to the council for further investigation.”
Cllr Harper was then the subject of two complaints by the organiser’s family to the Ombudsman and the council.
She added: “Sharing concerns over the refunds issue and posting a link to the Facebook group prompted complaints from the organisers to both the council and to the Ombudsman about me personally.
“I’ve now had two letters from the Ombudsman confirming both complaints have been dismissed with a clear statement that ‘Councillors are able to support local issues and causes which constituents may have raised’ and that ‘Councillors are entitled to express their views’.”
Cllr Harper urged anyone with concerns about the events to take them to the appropriate authorities.
She said: “I’m aware that Trading Standards are currently investigating complaints and they advise anyone with a complaint to register it with Citizen Advice Consumer Services on 0808 223 1133 (1144 for Welsh language).
“Complaints registered this way will also be reviewed by the Trading Standards team locally.”
The council have confirmed that there is currently no licence in place for the 2024 event, although tickets are currently on sale.
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