Families 'disgusted' after Little Mix at Newmarket Nights descends into drunken 'scenes from hell'
PUBLISHED: 15:31 25 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:28 26 June 2017
Families attending a much-hyped Suffolk pop concert have described how young fans' excitement turned to tears as drunken crowds reportedly became violent amid "scenes from hell".
Little Mix’s show at Newmarket Nights on Friday has provoked dozens of angry comments from audience members “disgusted” by the alleged lack of security which they say failed to control the crowd’s raucous behaviour.
Parents with young children claim they were left “traumatised” by drunken men allegedly fighting with each other and stumbling into innocent bystanders. Some claim to have seen young children with “terrible facial injuries”, while others left in tears.
Organisers have apologised to those who did not have a good time and said the event will be reviewed.
Tina Bronstein, who attended with her young daughter and a friend, said a “fab start” quickly turned into a “scene from hell” as drunken adults began fighting so that children had to be removed by police and St John’s Ambulance crew.
After an “enormous fight broke out”, Ms Bronstein said she had to use all her strength just to stop crowds “squashing my little girl who was screaming with fear”.
“This was unacceptable, poor planning, unsafe – a disaster of chaos at what should have been a concert for children to enjoy,” she added.
Darren Smith, who also attended with children, said the organisation was “terrible” and he would not be returning.
Kimberley Bocking claimed a “stampede” left some children “crushed”.
“I would strongly recommend that families think twice about attending nights like this,” she added.
Krissi Harrison said there was a “mad crush” as “totally hammered” adults forced their way through the crowds “not giving any thought to the children they were trampling over”.
“There were children crying because they couldn’t see and they were being battered by drunk people,” she added.
Lisa Gay said the organisation was the worst she had ever experienced in more than 30 years attending concerts as a wheelchair user.
She said staff had directed her to a platform for wheelchair users, only to be told later it was a VIP area, which resulted in angry scenes with people going “ballistic, screaming and frothing at the mouth”.
“It was horrific – so sickening,” she added.
Maria Stableford also reported problems with the platform she says was signposted for disabled people. She said the area became overcrowded with both VIP ticket-holders and disabled people, who were supposed to be separated in a roped-off area.
Ms Stableford claims a member of staff threatened her when she refused to move from the VIP area into the disabled section because it was too crowded. She then claims a woman in the VIP area told her to move to the other side “where you belong”, while the staff threatened to call the police. Ms Stableford, a medically retired police officer, said the officers were “embarrassed” by the situation and “had no intention of moving me”. After the officers left, however, she then said a woman in the VIP area verbally and physically assaulted her.
“I have never been made to feel so insignificant and discriminated against in all of my life,” she said.
Others have criticised the sound quality, late timing of the performance and difficulties in leaving the venue. However many of the concert-goers posting on social media said they had a “great night”.
Amy Starkey, managing director of Newmarket Racecourse, said: “We had 22,000 people last night on site to watch racing and Little Mix perform after racing.
“We widely advertise our music events as racing plus music. We had a steady flow of people arriving with a record number of police and security on site.
“The team and I remain absolutely committed to ensuring that anybody that comes to enjoy racing and or music has a good experience and if for whatever reason that experience isn’t in line with their expectation then I apologise.
“We also had our local authority safety advisory group last night conducting a full inspection and of course we will review the event in its entirety and look to improve based on customer feedback.
“Newmarket has hosted in excess of 200 music events in 30 years.”
Acts booked for 2017’s series of Newmarket Nights concerts include Culture Club, Olly Murs and Jess Glynne.