Coventry 'never in running' for Radio One's Big Weekend

By Matthew Bates Thursday 14 February 2013 Updated: 18/02 12:24

COVENTRY was never formally offered Radio One's Big Weekend by the BBC, the Observer understands.

Reports surfaced last month that Europe's biggest free-ticketed festival was turned down by the city council back in 2011 because of funding fears.

It sparked fury from music lovers angry at the thought of missing out on top acts such as Lady Gaga and Arctic Monkeys who starred at that year's event in Carlisle.

But the Observer can reveal top brass at Radio One were unaware of the event being offered to the city and put it down to 'local rumour'.

It is instead now believed the idea of hosting the event was speculatively raised with council bosses by a third party company, rather than station chiefs themselves.

A Radio One spokesman would not comment but emails seen by us show Coventry was never on the station's agenda for the 2011 event.

The council confirmed they had been approached by music company Live Nation, rather than the BBC.

A spokesman said: "This was a very late request and we had not budgeted for an event of that kind and had already committed to having the Godiva Festival – the event costs anything between £80,000 to £250,000.

"However, we were not the only city they were talking to and our research has indicated that Carlisle had been invited by the BBC to go to Bangor, the host in the previous year, to see the event first hand and were on the shortlist to host the next event.

"No officer or councillor turned Live Nation down - the BBC just chose to go to another city."

This year's event will be in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, while 2014's venue has already been decided. But 2015 will not be looked at until later this year and radio bosses are open to exploring Coventry as a possible venue.

One councillor claimed the city should use publicity surrounding the reports as a springboard to hosting the event.

"Thanks to the Observer investigation, it's clear that Coventry was never in Radio One's plans for the Big Weekend," Coun Bally Singh said.

"However, the excitement created by the recent rumours does show how popular holding the event in the city would be.

"So I urge council officials to make serious attempts for a 2015 bid directly with the BBC, rather than relying on third party DJs and producers.

"Done properly, it's a great chance to showcase Coventry to the rest of the country as well as bringing some much needed extra trade to our city centre."

The council spokesman added: "We know who the contact is at the BBC and we will be talking to them about events they could bring to the city in the future."

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