POLICE are standing firm over their move to treble the cost of policing for some of Scotland's best loved music festivals, threatening their survival.

Organisers of the Eden Festival, which attracts around 5,000 revellers to Dumfries and Galloway each year, joined south of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth in objecting to the soaring police costs which they say is threatening the future of events.

There has been a marked rise in the number of music festivals being held in the region, which boasts the 13-year-old Wickerman Festival, the fledgling Electric Fields and Knockengorroch World Ceilidh.

Read more: New lighthouse movie starring Gerard Butler to illuminate one of Scotland's most baffling mysteries

Chief Superintendent Gary Ritchie, local policing commander for Dumfries and Galloway, explained that policing costs were being transferred on to festivals because they were “commercial enterprises” and no longer entitled to discounts.

HeraldScotland:

He said: “For all commercial events, those holding the event have to pay for their policing. If they don’t, then I have to remove policing from communities to cover the event.

“I very much doubt that the public of Dumfries and Galloway would tolerate having police officers removed from their usual patrols in order to provide policing to a commercial event.”

But the stance has shocked organisers of Eden, which is organised by Galloway Arts Community Interest company, a non-profit organisation run by members of the local community. The increased cost could sound the death knell on Eden after 2017, they claim and have joined south of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth to call on the the Scottish Government to reconsider.

Read more: New lighthouse movie starring Gerard Butler to illuminate one of Scotland's most baffling mysteries

“They judged us as being an commercial enterprise without asking any questions about what we are,” said Eden founder and co-director Adam Curtis. “None of the directors or managers take a wage, we all work voluntary.

“I don’t know how festival organisers would have an appetite for staying in Dumfries and Galloway and haemorrhaging that amount of money on police when you can go even to Cumbria and pay a minimal amount or nothing at all. It’s forcing us out of Scotland.”

HeraldScotland:

Mr Curtis added: “We want the police to be held to account, to have the costs at a sensible level rather than having carte blanche to do what you like.”

The policing bill for the four-day Eden Festival has risen from £12,000 to £38,000, an increase of more than 300 per cent.

Read more: New lighthouse movie starring Gerard Butler to illuminate one of Scotland's most baffling mysteries

The Electric Fields festival paid a bill of £1,600 for 2,000 people last year, but it will go up to £19,000 for an audience of 5,000, albeit over two days.

It is understood the Wickerman Festival will still go ahead next year despite posting a £300,000 loss in 2015 and a net liability of nearly £200,000.

The most recent festival in 2015 went ahead despite the death of driving force Jamie Gilroy at the end of 2014. It was cancelled in 2016.

HeraldScotland:

Mr Curtis added: "We are happy to pay for policing. And we do believe there should be policing at the event, but we don't agree with the amount.

"I don't know how festival organisers would have an appetite for staying in Dumfries and Galloway and haemorrhaging that amount of money on police when you can go to the borders, or even to Cumbria and pay a minimal amount or nothing at all. It's forcing us out of Scotland."

Chief Superintendent Gary Ritchie, local policing commander for Dumfries and Galloway said “I am fully supportive of music festivals and recognise the benefits they offer to the whole area. The prime concern of the police is to ensure these events take place safely.  

“The reason costs have risen is because I determined that the organisers, as commercial enterprises, were no longer entitled to discounts that had been enjoyed in previous years.  

“We police according to the safety policies the organisers develop and have approved through local councils as directed by The Purple Guide.  It would be irresponsible to deviate from that.

HeraldScotland:

“I can reassure anybody who would look to attend music concerts in Dumfries and Galloway in future that these events will be managed and policed in line with the provisions of The Purple Guide and in support of the event organisers’ safety policies.  

"I would also like to reassure the people of Dumfries and Galloway that this will absolutely not be to the detriment of local policing."

Eden began as an area of the Wickerman Festival in 2002, before becoming its own event in 2009.  The first festival was held in the Forest of Ae and was headlined by The Levellers.

It has since attracted the likes of legendary rappers De La Soul, 70s disco band Heatwave,  Badly Drawn Boy, Gomez and Skye and Ross from Morcheeba.