Fears that three-day deaf festival 'will be too noisy'

Police are objecting to a licence for a three-day festival likely to attract at least 500 deaf people from across the UK '“ because they fear the event will be too noisy.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 8th February 2016, 1:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 6:22 am
Tickets to the Deaf Foam Festival
Tickets to the Deaf Foam Festival

The England Deaf Party wants The Deaf Foam Festival to take place on July 8-10 at Stockwell Farm, Leighton Road, Eggington, with entertainment running through until 4am. Despite not yet having a licence its website says certain ticket types are sold out or nearly sold out.

Beds Police licensing officer PC Liam Mitchell has told Central Beds Council that the event’s website and social media pages made reference to ‘Live Music, All Night Long’. “This is despite regulated entertainment not being requested on the application,” he said.

“Such music is likely to result in a repeat of the noise nuisance seen by the residents of Eggington during the event in 2014 [The Illusive Fest].”

Illusive Festival at Stockwell Farm which police say caused numerous problems in 2014... Picture: Oliver Pooley Photography

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    He pointed out that the Illusive Fest at the same site attacted around 1,500 people, resulted in multiple arrests for drug offences, assault, criminal damage and a serious road traffic collision. Villagers from Eggington also complained of excessive noise.

    Pc Mitchell said: “The previous festival at the site in question in 2014 demonstrated the impact on crime, disorder, public safety and nuisance that a well-planned event at this location generated.”

    He described the planning for the Deaf Foam Festival as “worrying limited”. He added: “On speaking to the applicant via email, no public safety risk assessments appear to be in place. A review of the organiser’s website, Twitter, and Facebook pages raise further concerns about how the event is being managed.

    “Despite stating on the application that there will be only 400 attendees, the website states ‘we would like to aim for 500-800 people to come

    Illusive Festival at Stockwell Farm which police say caused numerous problems in 2014... Picture: Oliver Pooley Photography

    this festival’. 4,400 people have been ‘invited’ on the Facebook page, with 887 confirming as ‘going’. Whilst Facebook may not be a true representation of actual numbers of attendees, it gives an indication of those that are aware of the event and have the potential to arrive.

    “The event site itself is situated on an unlit winding road with a national speed limit. The lack of any traffic management plan adds concerns over public safety with regards to the risk of road traffic collisions involving vehicles queuing to attend the site, and people walking in the road.”

    Pc Mitchell said there were further concerns over how responsibly the applicant would manage the sale of alcohol. He said there were messages on the Facebook page offering ‘A Free Bottle Of Rum Or Vodka At Festival’ for those that ‘liked’ the event page, and a challenge of drinking a ‘Yard Drink’ in under a minute at the event, to receive a free t-shirt.

    Central Beds Council’s environmental health officer, Alan Stone, said he objected on potential noise nuisance and public safety grounds. He added: “There is insufficient information on which to assess the merits of the proposals and as such I have to object.”

    The licence was due to be debated at a meeting of Central Beds Council today (Friday), but was cancelled at the last minute.

    This was because applicant Mathew Slator, who was due to address the meeting, didn’t have a sign language interpreter in place.

    The England Deaf Party website states the festival will feature dancers, comedy, theatre, poets, storytelling, foods, films, carbaret, and other arts.

    It states that £130 group of four tickets are sold out, and £50 VIP tickets (“giving access to see the presenter, famous people and what’s going on in the background of the stage”) are nearly sold out. The website states that the tickets are non refundable unless you take out ticket insurance.

    When asked about the licensing concerns, a spokesman for England Deaf Party told the LBO: “The event is for deaf community and anyone is welcome to come to learn sign Language and make a new friends. It is for people who like freedom and who can stay the weekend and camp too.

    “There will be foam machine activity and a bouncy castle all weekend. We have live music with headphones and it won’t be loud anywhere outside. We really want this event to happen for the deaf community.”