WOMAD music festival faces legal challenge from police

This Is Wiltshire: POPULAR: A crowded Charlton Park during last year’s WOMAD festival  PICTURE BY robert peel POPULAR: A crowded Charlton Park during last year’s WOMAD festival PICTURE BY robert peel

Wiltshire Police are challenging the legality of the licence granted for this year’s WOMAD music festival after failing to reach an agreement over special policing services.

The decision means festival organisers could have to wait until just over a week before the planned event, from July 26 to 29, before they know whether their licence has been approved, unless organisers and the police can come to a prior agreement.

This allows for the standard 28-day consultation period before a hearing is held by Wiltshire Council, the licensing authority.

The World Of Music, Arts and Drama event at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, attracts thousands of people to the area, providing a huge boost to the local economy.

Tickets have already been selling fast with the full allocation to people living in the Malmesbury already snapped up along with the park and camp tickets.

A statement from Wiltshire Police, released today, read: “WOMAD and Wiltshire Police did not reach an agreement in relation to special policing services for the 2012 WOMAD event by the agreed deadline in June. As a result, Wiltshire Police are now challenging the legality of the license for the event.

“Discussions with the organisers of WOMAD continue and we hope to reach an appropriate resolution to this matter in due course.”

WOMAD said they were ‘surprised’ to learn via the media that Wiltshire Police are requesting a judicial process around this year’s festival licence.

A spokesman said: “As is the case every year, WOMAD has been in ongoing and open discussions with Wiltshire Police about the policing strategy for the 2012 festival for several months, and in a letter received on June 11 the police imposed a five-day deadline for agreement.

“WOMAD submitted a revised proposal for policing by the imposed deadline.

“We now know the proposal has been rejected by the Wiltshire Constabulary, and we are seeking clarification for the reasons they have taken this action.”

WOMAD said that they have enjoyed a ‘positive and constructive’ relationship with the police over the past five years, making it one of the safest major festivals in the country. In their statement, WOMAD also reflected on the importance of the event to the local economy.

A spokesman said: “WOMAD and the Wiltshire Constabulary will continue to work together to present the county’s finest festival, a festival that has been embraced by the communities of north Wiltshire and brings so much economic benefit to local businesses and people during difficult times.

“Both sides fully anticipate a successful outcome from further discussions.”

Wiltshire and Malmesbury town councillor Simon Killane is keen to see the licence issue resolved. He said: “WOMAD is a very important event. This year there will be a very big crowd and it’s a really good family festival.”

Comments (8)

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8:24pm Wed 20 Jun 12

shed says...

They will be after more money for 'policing services'
The did it with the Big Green Gathering and a Big yearly Motorcycle meet, of which I forget the name.
If they do not like the event they just keep asking for more and more money to bankrupt the event.
Wilts police are still bearing a grudge since the Bean Field Battle years ago which cost them so much in compo, bad public relations, and which humiliated them in court.
They will be after more money for 'policing services' The did it with the Big Green Gathering and a Big yearly Motorcycle meet, of which I forget the name. If they do not like the event they just keep asking for more and more money to bankrupt the event. Wilts police are still bearing a grudge since the Bean Field Battle years ago which cost them so much in compo, bad public relations, and which humiliated them in court. shed
  • Score: 0

8:42am Thu 21 Jun 12

merulius says...

Typical bully-boy tactics from the police. They need to understand (or be made to understand) that they are public servants, not a money-making machine that is trying to shake down legitimate enterprise.
Typical bully-boy tactics from the police. They need to understand (or be made to understand) that they are public servants, not a money-making machine that is trying to shake down legitimate enterprise. merulius
  • Score: 0

1:56pm Thu 21 Jun 12

Yer Tis says...

OK cancel WOMAD, and show the world the real face of Wiltshire Police. Remember this is a force that sands most of its staff down at weekends and bank holidays!
OK cancel WOMAD, and show the world the real face of Wiltshire Police. Remember this is a force that sands most of its staff down at weekends and bank holidays! Yer Tis
  • Score: 0

4:48pm Thu 21 Jun 12

merulius says...

Yer Tis wrote:
OK cancel WOMAD, and show the world the real face of Wiltshire Police. Remember this is a force that sands most of its staff down at weekends and bank holidays!
That'll smooth off the rough edges, then :-) ?
[quote][p][bold]Yer Tis[/bold] wrote: OK cancel WOMAD, and show the world the real face of Wiltshire Police. Remember this is a force that sands most of its staff down at weekends and bank holidays![/p][/quote]That'll smooth off the rough edges, then :-) ? merulius
  • Score: 0

11:47am Fri 22 Jun 12

Harold Shand says...

shed wrote:
They will be after more money for 'policing services' The did it with the Big Green Gathering and a Big yearly Motorcycle meet, of which I forget the name. If they do not like the event they just keep asking for more and more money to bankrupt the event. Wilts police are still bearing a grudge since the Bean Field Battle years ago which cost them so much in compo, bad public relations, and which humiliated them in court.
Humiliated them in court? That's as maybe. It certainly gained them a lot of respect in many quarters.

That was then, though, this is now and they do sometimes seem to take arbitrary decisions about events.
[quote][p][bold]shed[/bold] wrote: They will be after more money for 'policing services' The did it with the Big Green Gathering and a Big yearly Motorcycle meet, of which I forget the name. If they do not like the event they just keep asking for more and more money to bankrupt the event. Wilts police are still bearing a grudge since the Bean Field Battle years ago which cost them so much in compo, bad public relations, and which humiliated them in court.[/p][/quote]Humiliated them in court? That's as maybe. It certainly gained them a lot of respect in many quarters. That was then, though, this is now and they do sometimes seem to take arbitrary decisions about events. Harold Shand
  • Score: 0

12:17pm Fri 22 Jun 12

exwilts says...

merulius wrote:
Typical bully-boy tactics from the police. They need to understand (or be made to understand) that they are public servants, not a money-making machine that is trying to shake down legitimate enterprise.
You are correct when you say the police are public servants, but is it right that public money is used to police a private event? Events of this nature are very resource intensive, we all know that the police are already stretched and having budgets cut by millions of pounds. Abstracting "on duty" resources to police these events would only be to the detriment of the rest of the residents of the County.

I think it is right that event organisers pay for the extra policing resources in much the same way as they have to pay to have an on site medical provision. At the end of the day football clubs are required to pay for policing in and around their grounds on match days, so what is the difference?

I hope that an agreement is reached soon as it would be a real shame for this event not to be able to go ahead.
[quote][p][bold]merulius[/bold] wrote: Typical bully-boy tactics from the police. They need to understand (or be made to understand) that they are public servants, not a money-making machine that is trying to shake down legitimate enterprise.[/p][/quote]You are correct when you say the police are public servants, but is it right that public money is used to police a private event? Events of this nature are very resource intensive, we all know that the police are already stretched and having budgets cut by millions of pounds. Abstracting "on duty" resources to police these events would only be to the detriment of the rest of the residents of the County. I think it is right that event organisers pay for the extra policing resources in much the same way as they have to pay to have an on site medical provision. At the end of the day football clubs are required to pay for policing in and around their grounds on match days, so what is the difference? I hope that an agreement is reached soon as it would be a real shame for this event not to be able to go ahead. exwilts
  • Score: 0

4:23pm Sat 23 Jun 12

merulius says...

exwilts wrote:
merulius wrote:
Typical bully-boy tactics from the police. They need to understand (or be made to understand) that they are public servants, not a money-making machine that is trying to shake down legitimate enterprise.
You are correct when you say the police are public servants, but is it right that public money is used to police a private event? Events of this nature are very resource intensive, we all know that the police are already stretched and having budgets cut by millions of pounds. Abstracting "on duty" resources to police these events would only be to the detriment of the rest of the residents of the County.

I think it is right that event organisers pay for the extra policing resources in much the same way as they have to pay to have an on site medical provision. At the end of the day football clubs are required to pay for policing in and around their grounds on match days, so what is the difference?

I hope that an agreement is reached soon as it would be a real shame for this event not to be able to go ahead.
@exwilts: I agree with your sentiments. My point was that the police are able to use the "nuclear" option of threatening to cancel the event. That's bullying, not negotiating.
[quote][p][bold]exwilts[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]merulius[/bold] wrote: Typical bully-boy tactics from the police. They need to understand (or be made to understand) that they are public servants, not a money-making machine that is trying to shake down legitimate enterprise.[/p][/quote]You are correct when you say the police are public servants, but is it right that public money is used to police a private event? Events of this nature are very resource intensive, we all know that the police are already stretched and having budgets cut by millions of pounds. Abstracting "on duty" resources to police these events would only be to the detriment of the rest of the residents of the County. I think it is right that event organisers pay for the extra policing resources in much the same way as they have to pay to have an on site medical provision. At the end of the day football clubs are required to pay for policing in and around their grounds on match days, so what is the difference? I hope that an agreement is reached soon as it would be a real shame for this event not to be able to go ahead.[/p][/quote]@exwilts: I agree with your sentiments. My point was that the police are able to use the "nuclear" option of threatening to cancel the event. That's bullying, not negotiating. merulius
  • Score: 0

3:02pm Tue 26 Jun 12

Healthylady says...

As there seems to be very little history of trouble at this event, with many families attending, why does there need to be such a large police presence anyway. They can be very risk averse in looking at the staff they want on duty. Other events in the area have been over policed in the past too. Responsibility for running a safe event is with the organisers. They can choose to employee security staff who cost a lot less than the Police charge.
As there seems to be very little history of trouble at this event, with many families attending, why does there need to be such a large police presence anyway. They can be very risk averse in looking at the staff they want on duty. Other events in the area have been over policed in the past too. Responsibility for running a safe event is with the organisers. They can choose to employee security staff who cost a lot less than the Police charge. Healthylady
  • Score: 0

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