THE organisers of a festival which was forced into administration earlier this year owe Dorset Police more than £140,000 - the cost of five full-time PCs.

The force is listed as an unsecured creditor of Bestival. The bill was for providing police at the event, which has drawn thousands of people to Lulworth Castle, Purbeck over the past two years. It is understood the money is unlikely to be recovered.

Superintendent Mike Rogers, gold commander for Bestival, said: “We worked with event organisers in the run up to Bestival and resources were provided under a Home Office arrangement called ‘specialist policing services’.

“This process allows us to charge for the additional demands that a private event places on the force, ensuring costs are not met by local residents. The payment of our policing services invoice, totalling £141,176, is still outstanding.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “This matter is now in the hands of the Bestival administrators.

“I am incredibly frustrated that in a time of budget challenge, the equivalent of 10 per cent of the value of a normal two per cent precept rise is still owing to the force.

“I want to assure residents that I am working with the chief constable to ensure money owed is recovered.”

Camp Bestival tickets go on sale tomorrow, November 30. However, a question mark remains over Bestival’s future.

Both Bestival and Camp Bestival were hit by financial challenges in September.

Billionaire James Benamore, Dorset’s richest man, made a £1.1m offer to take over Camp Bestival days after his business the Richmond Group filed court papers seeking to put the companies behind the events into administration.

The Richmond Group had loaned the organisers £1.6m in February, and had taken a charge on some of their assets.

Administrators later sold the event’s assets, along with Bestival itself, to the Richmond Group.

The following month, the Bestival brands were acquired by Live Nation-Gaiety and SJM Concerts.

Dorset's top officer says the money owed to police by Bestival will compound the force’s financial challenge in the months ahead.

As reported, Chief Constable James Vaughan said earlier this month he is “extremely concerned” for the future of policing.

It is the first time such a warning has been given by a high-ranking officer from Dorset.

Yesterday, he said: “To date, we are still yet to receive the payment for the services Dorset Police provided Bestival last year.

“Recently I warned of our concerns around our future financial position, where we expect to see an additional reduction of £4 million a year from our budget.

"Not receiving the Bestival payment will add to the financial constraints we are currently facing.

“We are yet to understand how our financial picture will look in the coming years, and therefore it would be difficult to predict how any shortfalls will impact policing in Dorset.

“We will do all we can to ensure we receive the debts owed to the force.”