THE future of a festival once dubbed the “Glastonbury of the North” was in jeopardy last night after its organiser was charged with a drugs offence.

Andrew Norman, who stages the crowd-drawing Thimbleberry Music Festival, has been charged with permitting people to smoke cannabis at the event.

It is alleged this happened between Thursday, September 24, and Monday, September 28, as hundreds of revellers gathered for the festival at his farm, near Stanhope, County Durham.

The 51-year-old will face Bishop Auckland Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

A spokesman for Durham Police made a short statement yesterday: “On Friday, police charged a 51-year-old man with permitting the smoking of a class B drug on his premises. He is due to appear at Bishop Auckland Magistrates’ Court next Friday. The offence is said to have taken place between September 24 and September 28, this year.”

Officers arrested him shortly after the three-day festival, which sees hundreds of music lovers from across the UK camp at Thimbleberry Hall Farm twice a year.

It is not yet clear if Durham County Council bosses will grant Mr Norman a licence for next year’s event should he be convicted of the offence.

This casts further doubt over whether the event will go ahead next year.

It recently emerged organisers are struggling to raise cash to fund the £30,000 event, which has prompted more than 1,000 people to sign up to the Friends of Thimbleberry Music Festival Facebook group. Supporters have begun donating equipment and planning benefit gigs in the hope enough funds can be drummed up.

In its seventh year, Thimbleberry, said to be held on an old Viking settlement, has established itself as a platform for unsigned bands with four stages covering genres from drum and bass to indie, jazz and reggae.