Apologies: Khaled Choudhury, Richard Kirven, Mike Smith, Sinead Howell.
Introductions Introductions were made by all present. Before the meeting got underway The Chair explained that an amended agenda had been circulated to take account of several commercially sensitive items that had been transferred to Part B.
The Chair welcomed Rob Harmer, Representative of Fans Working Group to the meeting, and for his benefit explained the key objectives of the Safety Advisory Group.
The Chair reminded those present that the minutes if Safety Advisory Group meetings were a matter of public record and could only be redacted.
The minutes for the meeting were agreed as true record.
Matters Arising 4. Contingency Plan Exercising It was confirmed that evacuations had been carried out both the KC Stadium and Craven park. The evacuation at Craven Park was only an exercise, whilst the evacuation executed at the KC Stadium was a live incident. The Chair confirmed to members that it is acceptable to use live incidents as a means of reviewing contingency arrangements.
8. Changes to the location of the away fans – KC Stadium It was confirmed by the representatives of The Stadium Management Company that in their opinion the relocation of away fans had been successful. RH responded to this by adding that the feedback that he had received from home fans suggested that some were happy with their new location but some were not.
Persistent Standing Management Plan The Chair reminded members that sports grounds were required to devise a management plan to address persistent standing where it was anticipated. It was discussed that it was a trend at the KC Stadium for significant proportion of the North stand to stand up throughout the game and that it had also been observed that a small minority of fans behaved this way in the East stand too. There are also more significant persistent standing issues with some away fans that are covered in item 18.
Encouraging Supporter Engagement The Chair expressed thanks to RH for taking the time to come to the meeting, stating that he felt that it was positive to have the fans perspective on safety matters at the KC stadium, he continued to add that the invitation to SAG meetings was also open to representatives of Hull F.C and Hull KR fans as well. The Chair stressed to members that it was imperative that any fans representative that should attend does not come with their own agenda and complies with cooperative spirit of the group, he continued to remind the group that clubs cannot veto fans representatives who express an interest in attending SAG meetings, as it is a Local Authority chaired meeting the suitability of such delegates will be considered by The Chair.
Rail Seating, Ashton Gate update. Rail Seating GG informed members of a trial scheme of rail seating that was being ran in Bristol. The trial has been conducted in a small area of the sports ground and at rugby fixtures only, it is not known how successful this trial has been. It was discussed by members how the interface between seating and stood areas sounded like they could be problematic.
Labour publication regarding safe standing GG summarized the content of a recent labour publication which appeared to be pro standing at sports grounds. After circulating copies of the SGSA’s response, he reiterated that the authority’s stance upon this issue had not changed and that all seater stadiums were still viewed as the safest form of sports arena. GG explained that it was falsely perceived by some that the introduction of standing areas would lead to an increase in the capacity of sports grounds; it was reiterated that the capacity was dependant upon the final exit calculation as laid out in the green guide.
Drones It was discussed how as drone technology becomes more sophisticated and accessible they are becoming more prevalent. The Chair explained that the main areas of concern specific to sports grounds are loss of control, disruption and terrorist activity. A group discussion ensued around the use of drones by television companies and it was agreed that there should be some sort of permit to work system/protocol when they are to be used as it is essential that the details of their whereabouts and affected areas are communicated to all who have an interest in public safety. GG informed members that as far as he was aware BT Sport were the only network that were using the technology but only sparsely, he continued to add that he was not aware of Sky using the technology at all.
It was generally agreed that there is little that sports grounds could do to stop and errant drone, to that end it is essential that it is considered as in contingency planning.
SGSA to be retained as an independent body GG summarized the report and explained that legislation has been passed that safeguards the independence of the SGSA as a statutory body. Members were also advised that the legislation also gives the SGSA the ability to provide advice to other events outside of sports grounds, although they do not have any powers.
Changes regarding funding of vocational training The Chair stated that it was his understanding that changes to vocational funding were causing problems with the recruitment of stewards, this has lead to an increased reliance upon agency provided stewards, this causes the following issues:
SIA Licensing – Stewards who are employed directly by football grounds and are performing licensable activities have an exemption from the necessity hold an SIA licence, this exemption is not extended to agency staff, therefore wherever an agency steward is deployed to perform a licensable activity (e.g. search and eject or man guarding) it is required by law that he or she is SIA accredited. There is a significant cost implication to this as SIA accredited stewards command a higher wage than those who are not accredited. JR confirmed that at the KC Stadium only in-house staff are deployed to search fans to make sure no conditions of their license are breached.
Auditing of stewards – The Chair confirmed that in his experience records for in-house stewards are always readily available for audit (especially on match days), whereas the same cannot be said of agency stewards. This is particularly important as The Safety Officer must be able to verify that stewards meet the conditions laid out in the green guide with respect of experience and qualifications.
Inconsistent Provision – It was discussed how an inconsistent provision can lead staff being sent who are unfamiliar with the ground and do not have the correct levels of experience and qualification. DB revealed that he had witnessed the cross contracting of stewards between providers when short of staff, which can confuse the issue further. JR explained that his experiences of hiring agency staff had been positive so far. At the KC Stadium agency staff have traditionally been deployed in the North Stand, in fact the stadium have received a commendation of service from a poll of travelling away fans.
RH asked how many stewards were typically deployed at the KC Stadium on a match day, The Chair explained in brief the mechanism for calculating how many stewards were required after which JR confirmed that there were approximately 210 core stewards required to ensure safety was upheld and 158 just to be able to open the ground, JR also pointed out that this did not take account of extra personnel that may be required to establish segregation between home and away fans etc.
SGSA Conference Members were informed that the SGSA conference will be taking place at the Kia Oval on Tuesday 17 March 2015. The conference is currently fully subscribed but a waiting list system is now in operation.
Any Other Business Legionella GG explained that it had come to light that non typical risks of legionella can be found in sports grounds that could have the potential to affect members of the public. The possibility of an occurrence could be ruled out by an audit of areas such as irrigation, air conditioning and other producers of airborne moisture. Guidance on the audit of apparatus that is susceptible to such an occurrence can be found by contacting the Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department; the SGSA website also has links to government guidance documents.
Annual Audit The Chair was happy to disclose that everything was in order in the recent audit, there were minor issues such as missing signatures etc, which had all been resolved on the day or soon after, he continued remind DB that the During Performance Inspection was due and that he would be notifying him of his attendance at a game of his choosing in due course.
Safety Officer Training DB confirmed that he had reached the stage where he was now ready for his NVQ 4 assessment; he also affirmed that training had been identified for his deputy Steve Bywater too.
Use of Offices and Enterprise Zone on match days The Chair explained that despite his best efforts he was not included in the early planning negotiations between The Council and the designers of the Enterprise Zone; this has allowed a situation to occur whereby NPS have allowed leases to be granted which allow unrestricted access to the North Stand. As any tenants of the Enterprise Zone would have been included in the capacity calculation of the North Stand, an agreement has been reached with Laura Atton of NPS to impose the condition that tenants must sign in on match days and that a revised fire risk assessment is created, it was suggested that this agreement should be firmed up by drawing up a manual/procedure to provide tenants with.
PP made members aware of the existence of two fire risk assessments for the North Stand, one for NPS and one for Hull KR, it was agreed by all that a consistent approach was expected and that while one joint fire risk assessment would be preferable care should be taken to ensure that the two risk assessments that are currently in operation do not conflict.
PP discussed how there were still outstanding issues regarding fire safety in the Enterprise Zone, namely wheelchair access and evacuation, he expressed his disappointment that despite him offering advice on the training and appropriate procurement and use of evacuation chairs no action had yet been seen.
The Chair drew member’s attention to the potential of an issue with the future use of classrooms in the Enterprise Zone that back onto the concourse; during discussion with NPS he had been given the impression that there may be a move to use them on a match day. It was generally agreed by all that this would be a bad idea and in all probability unworkable.
Any Other Business Traffic congestion on match days DB confirmed that Hull KR have been in dialogue with Hull City Council with regard to the possibility of controlling the traffic lights on match days. DD stated that The Police would not be prepared to take the liability or responsibility for the operation of the lights and that in his opinion it was Hull City Council’s responsibly to provide a traffic engineer, he continued to add that assuming control of the traffic lights would not be required for every home fixture, but only those key games where there was a substantial attendance expected.
Right Turn – It was discussed how there was still issues around the right turn from Poorhouse Lane onto Preston Road, DD reiterated that The Police assuming responsibility of directing traffic would be a very expensive and that it would be more economical for the role to be performed by specifically trained stewards who were supported by the police or by subcontracting the role to a traffic management company. DD explained how more details on the inception of a traffic management plan to deal with the issue can be sought from Beverley Race Course who had recently had to devise their own plan to deal with traffic issues that had arisen on their Ladies Day events.
KC Stadium Annual Audit The Chair was happy to disclose that everything was in order in the recent audit., there were minor issues such as missing signatures etc, which had all been resolved on the day, he continued remind the safety team that the During Performance Inspection was due and that he would be notifying him of his attendance at a game of his choosing in due course.
Stadium Plans – The Chair explained that it was becoming increasingly apparent that due to the significant alterations that have been made to the KC Stadium (E.g. new turnstiles, retail units in concourse etc,) the AutoCAD plans are now out of date and in need updating.
West Park access road, parking prohibition 20th February 2015 The group were informed by the KC Stadium safety team of the issues that had been experienced on the access road to the stadium. The parking of cars on the access road has left the emergency vehicle access route to and from the stadium compromised. After meetings with the Local Authority and elected members approval has been granted for parking on the road on match days to be prohibited with the Local Authority enforcing the restriction, the notice of appeal for this order expired on the 20th February 2015, they continued to inform the group that in the interest of wanting to be fair and reasonable the Stadium Management Company shall try to educate fans by erecting signs and communicating the changes through various other outlets. The Chair stated that he will speak with the Traffic Engineer dealing with the matter to seek clarification regarding what happens now the period of notice has expired.
Hull City V Manchester Utd The Chair briefly summarised the historic problems encountered at the stadium when Manchester Utd fans visit and persistently stand, he also discussed the control measures, educational steps and correspondence with the club that has been tried and ultimately failed.
Restricted allocation has gone some way to mitigating the hazards caused by fans standing and occupying the aisle. DD explained that when standing, fans generally take up more space, this means that when a full allocation is given fans stood in the aisle cannot be forced back into the seating accommodation as there is not sufficient space for them.
At the last fixture, at a time of high excitement a progressive collapse, followed by minor crushing with fans falling over the wall was observed. Due to the density of people out of their seat it was deemed too unsafe for the police to intervene, the misbehaviour of the fans puts themselves and stewards at risk but also makes access for other emergency very difficult.
This season police intelligence suggests that there has been no positive change in the behaviour of travelling Manchester Utd fans and that a repeat of the same issues should be expected.
Location of away seating allocation This season the location of away seating has been changed from N3 - N7; instead away fans are now accommodated in blocks N6 – E3. It is hoped that this new configuration will have a positive effect on the behaviour of opposing fans. The new configuration does not include the pinch point area of N6 – N7 which was historically where problem fans migrated to. It is envisaged that the new arrangement should see volatile fans spread more evenly across the allocation and if there are any issues they are likely to be seen at both ends of the allocation blocks rather than at the one pinch point.
GG mentioned that he was aware of problems at other grounds that occur just after half time when fans have been drinking and return late to block up the vomitories and stand. JR explained that this issue has not been experienced as for higher category games as no alcohol is permitted.
GG spoke of his reservations regarding the SAG’s response to the problems posed by unruly away fans, in particular the acceptance that a withdrawal was likely. He posed the question of what would happen if someone was killed and the SAG knew there was an issue, he continued to add that it is not good practice to go into games where it is known that access cannot be gained to all areas of the ground. DD explained how on such a game the current arrangements meant that it was not safe for The Police enter blocks E1&2 but that it was essential that full and safe access E3 was maintained, he continued to add that this was not ideal and that he wondered how other clubs dealt with the issues presented, in response Anfield was cited as an example of a ground where persistent standing had been all but eradicated, it was discussed how leaflets were issued to fans and the stewarding was very proactive there. DD stressed that The Police need the space (provided by restrictions) to be able to force fans back from the aisle and into their seats, the problems faced could be exacerbated if the game in question was of particular importance for one of the teams (e.g. relegation or European qualification) which would bring an increasingly inflammatory dynamic to the match, he continued to add that he accepted the financial implications of restricting allocation but in his opinion the club need to be more forceful and eject and cannot let the issue continue, it was also discussed how conversely Manchester Utd are known in the industry for being very stringent with persistent standing in their own ground. DD stated that he will open dialogue with Manchester United to try and get them to engage with educating their fans. JR mentioned how Manchester Utd have sent leaflets to their fans in the past and that stewards do endeavour to educate fans upon arrival, he also added that he hoped that any ejection will show other fans that they must behave.
Disabled Seating It was discussed how it has been observed on more than one occasion that in times of high excitement fans surge forward in the away section and have encroached on fans sat in the disabled seating allocation. It was agreed by all that the disabled seating in E1 and 2 is a problem in any game but it should definitely be suspended in fixtures such as the Manchester United one where unrest is expected.
It was agreed that one seat from each end of each row be restricted;
That disabled seating be suspended;
That more proactive ejection be implemented;
DD to speak to club re educating fans but also to celebrate responsibly – he is to reiterate this at referees briefing;
JR to devise a match specific management plan.
Future projects (floodlights) It was discussed how LED 1800 lux value floodlights were required by The Premier League. DG informed members that new floodlights were going to be installed in each corner of the stadium and that construction was due to be completed during the first week of July. GG said how it was important that they are correctly positioned as there have been instances of the light blinding people’s sight at other grounds, DG answered to confirm that a study has been conducted to ensure that the positioning is correct.
Additional turnstiles SC informed the group of the intention for additional turnstiles to be installed at the stadium to try to address late entry problems caused by the late walk up of fans, it was discussed how this will help the situation but not necessarily alleviate it and that it was also the fans responsibility to arrive at the ground in a timely manner. RH mentioned how he felt that the turnstiles had a fundamental flaw in that the do not register when a ticket/pass holder has actually passed through and entered into the ground and that this can leave fans locked out meaning that manual assistance is required from the steward, SC responded to this by confirming that there was a 20 second period in which the cards/ticket holder can pass which should be sufficient, he continued to add that there is also a red and green light system in operation that illustrates when the card or ticket has been accepted. RH acknowledged this but reiterated that people are still having difficulty. SC discussed how he expects the manless turnstiles to operate slicker in 12-18 months time when people have got used to the system, but that the main contributor of the issues regarding entry are the result of a late walk up. GG explained how some people don’t mind getting in late and have a routine that they will not change and that there is no resolution for this kind of fan. The Chair informed members that the flow rates of the turnstiles is constantly measured and that they have for the most part exceeded the 660 people for hour that they are expected to allow entry to, he continued to add that he was monitoring the situation and will consult with the Stadium Management Company about improvement suggestions. DD mentioned how at some of the lesser attended games fans unfamiliar with the ground purchase tickets and that this can detract from rates of entry, GN added that flow rates should be improved where possible as fans who are still queuing after kick off become frustrated which can lead to public order issues.
Any Other Business RH asked why home and away fans are segregated by means of a steel fence when entering and leaving their allocated sections of the stadium, he continued to add that he has not seen this situation at any other stadiums he has travelled to and that in his opinion it detracts from the experience of visiting the stadium. DD responded to RH by informing him that in light of reduced resources the fence was a crucial part of the maintaining a safe environment for everyone economically. He explained that there are always going to be a small minority of people who are intent on causing problems and if there was an incident elsewhere that The Police were called to then the fence would ensure that such people were segregated. In order to gain a better insight into the issues that The Police have to consider and which form the basis of their tactics DD invited RH to shadow them on a match day, RH thank DD for the opportunity.