Birmingham Christmas Lights Stampede
On Saturday there were planned performances from top artists - like Sugarbabes, JLS, Natalie Imbruglia and Pixie Lott - as well as the switching on of the Christmas lights at Millennium Point followed by a fireworks display. However, due to what has been named The 2009 Birmingham Millennium Point Stampede, the show was canceled. An investigation into the stampede was launched by Birmingham City Council on Sunday after over 60 people were injured.
There were about 20,000 people to attend the event, but they weren’t expecting any more than 15,000. Hundreds of fans surged through safety barriers while JLS, the runner-ups in last year’s “X Factor”, were performing. This left those gathered at the front crushed in a stampeded, with 4 out of the 60 injured taken to the hospital.
There were sections of the area fenced off and authorities of some sort stationed at only a few points to prevent minor crimes or trouble breaking out among party goers getting too excited. Later, Birmingham city Councillor Mullaney said that the fencing was the main problem, as the solid-steel fencing was broken by the wind overnight. They replaced it with hessian fencing, which is what they used on building sites. They also added some extra security.
However, their attempts to secure the area were futile, as the event ended up being canceled. Witnesses at the event said that there weren’t enough officers and stewards to deal with the chaos. JLS stopped their show, and fans never got to see Sugarbabes.
Assistant director for sport and events Steve Hollingworth says that the authority did all it could to prepare for the show and will be conducting a thorough investigation. He doesn’t think they are the ones to blame, but they will look at their plans and review if they have a big enough area in the city centre for these events.