Villagers’ outrage over decision to approve festival near cemetery

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Villagers are outraged over a council’s decision to approve a three-day rock music and bike festival next to a cemetery.

Locals are slamming the event as ludicrously insensitive”, while councillors have hit back, saying these opinions were “disrespectful”.

The festival involves 3,000 people and will take place at Longmoor Lane Showground in Breaston, Derbyshire.

At an Erewash Borough Council licensing hearing on January 30, councillors approved the controversial plan.

The 19th iteration of the festival will take place from Thursday, July 6 to Sunday, July 9, reports Derbyshire Live.

The hearing was told how a total of 38 letters were submitted by residents over the planned event with 31 Breaston residents objecting and seven residents from Long Eaton, Sandiacre and Sawley supporting it.

Councillors felt that restrictions would enable the event to go ahead without undue disruption, on the condition that recorded music would stop at midnight on Thursday and at 1am on Saturday and Sunday.

Live music would stop at 11am on all three days and alcohol would be sold from noon until one-minute past midnight on Thursday and from noon until 1am on Friday and Saturday.

Mark Dunn, the agent for the applicant, told the hearing that several opposing residents appeared to be discriminating against the would-be festival goers due to the rock music that would be played and the biker community who it would encourage to attend.

He said some residents appeared to be expecting the “Sons of Anarchy” – a fictional violent motorcycle gang – to turn up at the event, but sought to reassure that it would be a “family-friendly festival”.

Mr Dunn said that, unlike previous versions of the festival, this event would not include a wet t-shirt contest or pole dancing competition, in a bid to make it more family-friendly.

The event would also be half the size of the previous festival, held at Carnfield Hall in South Normanton, with attendees capped at 2,500 and staff, crew, bands and their guests topping this up to a maximum of 3,000.

Brian Matsell, a Holly Avenue resident, told the hearing that security fencing should be erected around the site to stop “non-paying interlopers” simply walking into the event.

He also feared traffic heading for the festival would bring the surrounding area to a standstill.

Mr Matsell said: “It really is not the right site, sitting in a dense residential population, playing music until 1am in the morning. It should be no later than midnight.”

Nick Groves, a Holly Avenue resident who lives 140 metres from the site boundary, said the plot was an agricultural field for the vast majority of the year, not an event location.

He feared the planned festival could cause a “statutory nuisance”, saying: “We feel this event is completely unsuitable for the scope and scale that is being proposed.”

Mr Dunn told the hearing that 28 events were allowed to take place each year on the showground, normally horse and dog shows.

He said these often involved alcohol, music and tannoy systems which were not managed or monitored – while the planned festival would be heavily governed.

Mr Dunn said Sally Sessions, the applicant for the festival and a director of the company running it, had more than 20 years of experience running events.

He said: “Many of the organisers and the main customer base are from the Long Eaton area and it is a long old trek (19 miles) to South Normanton.”

Later in the hearing, he said this was not the sole reason for the location change, saying that event size and the mounting cost of running it were core factors.

Mr Dunn said previous events had not resulted in any concerns being raised with event organisers and that fears raised by objectors were “misconceived perceptions”.

He said: “The objections were made without any facts or evidence and nobody has bothered to seek answers.”

Responding to concerns about speeding motorbike riders, he said motorbike riders would be much more likely to abide by the speed limit due to the heightened risk of personal harm.

He said: “Any disruption to traffic would be minimal and the current traffic levels will prevent the speeding that residents speak of.

“Thirty representations raise concerns about noise. This is three days out of 365, with a maximum 44 hours of music, which would be played in marquees, not outdoors. The marquees will absorb some sound… we cannot stop all noise, but we will do our best.”

He said regular sound level monitoring would take place around the site and at noise-sensitive locations nearby, such as the homes of residents.

Mr Dunn said some of the comments made by objectors, which claimed the event was “ludicrously insensitive” were themselves in turn “disrespectful”.

He said: “We are a diverse community and we don’t all have the same beliefs, I cannot see how the event is disrespectful in any way.”

Mr Dunn provided examples of other events in Long Eaton that either took place near churches and cemeteries or, like the annual carnival, streamed past them while playing loud music, but were not similarly labelled as “disrespectful”.

He said: “This is discrimination towards a group of people they have not met before who ride motorbikes and rock music.

“Some insensitive and derogatory comments have been made to a group of people who just want to have a good time and enjoy some music, at a family-friendly festival, it is not the Sons of Anarchy, it is for everyone to enjoy.”

Mr Dunn said the approach to drugs would be no different than at Creamfields or Y Not, in which any attendees witnessed with drugs, taking drugs or selling drugs would be escorted off the property and the police would be called.

He said the applicant was willing to reduce the hours in which recorded music was being played from 1.30am until 1am.

Diagrams of the proposed layout of the event show a large amount of camping space, with all attendees able to park their vehicles on-site, next to their camping spot, along with a short-stay site for people who are not sleeping at the venue.

Mr Groves said: “Not everyone has got a vested interest and objections to rock music, some have genuine concerns. Please don’t paint us all with the same brush.

“Please take consideration of the local residents who will be affected.” After the committee retired to consider its decision, Cllr Kewal Singh Athwal, chairman of the licensing hearing, announced that a premises licence for the site and associated festival had been approved.

This was with the restriction to a maximum of 3,000 attendees, including staff and guests; and that recorded music would finish at midnight on Thursday and at 1am on Friday and Saturday. Cllr Athwal said: “On balance we believe concerns can be adequately addressed by conditions and there are no reasons why the premises licence should not be granted.

“We are pleased you have taken on the concerns of the local residents, you need to try and work with them.

“We wish you much success and sincerely hope the event will be managed as set out today, it is in the interest of the local community.

“If not, this panel has the ability to review the premises licence.”

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