THE Big Weekend cost Swindon about £400,000 with most of the cash going on policing and transport. Now Swindon Council is figuring out how to hold a music festival every year.

It used money put aside for a summer festival in the town centre, marketing money and Government funding to pay for its side of the Radio 1 event.

Fewer than 20 arrests were made at the May 9 and 10 weekend event, with police chiefs describing the operation as a huge success. Hundreds of officers were drafted in to police the festival where 40,000 people packed into Lydiard Park to hear and see The Prodigy, Snow Patrol and Lily Allen.

Coun Phil Young, Swindon Council’s lead member for culture, said the investment has paid off thanks to the national exposure on the town.

He said: “It was difficult, as we didn’t know how much it would cost but we knew that Cardiff spent £500,000 in 2003.

“The location presented us with a challenge, as Lydiard is rural.”

Transport, including AA staff, signage, car parking and stewards, cost £200,000 while the police were paid £160,000.

The remaining £40,000 went on additional security, said Coun Young.

“Hotels received bumper bookings while the economy is in mire,” he said. “It gave the town so much publicity. It gets the town into people’s consciousness.

“The biggest question or comment I have received is: ‘Right, what is happening next year’. There seems to be a real desire from the town to hold a festival on an annual basis. The festival had an impact on the people of West Swindon so we would need to consider the location.

“The Big Weekend was a unique one-off but now we have to sit down and think about what, where and when.”

He thanked council staff and volunteers who acted as litter pickers and stewards.

“When the council went after the Radio 1 Big Weekend we always knew that it would be hugely beneficial to Swindon but I don’t think anyone involved realised just how big it would be.”

He also pointed out the benefits children saw thanks to BBC and council outreach work and the success of the fringe events.

Boy band JLS stunned Nova Hreod School thanks to a surprise visit arranged by BBC Radio 1.

Senior broadcasting staff also visited the town to talk to youngsters about the media.