Campaigners delight as Mint fest is dropped

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Campaigners say they are delighted after Mint Festival organiser and Stockeld Park decided to cancel future events at the Wetherby venue.

In a joint statement issued last weekend, organisers of the festival and the owners of the family themed park, which is just inside the Harrogate borough, said a mutual agreement had been reached to surrender the three-year licence.

Thousands of dance lovers had attended the event in September but it resulted in floods of complaints from residents near the site and in Spofforth of traffic chaos and anti-social behaviour on their properties and streets.

Spokesman for the campaigners Jim Walton told the News: “We are delighted with the mutual decision to cancel the contract for future dance music festivals by both Stockeld Park and Mint owners.

“We are grateful that they have recognised that Stockeld Park is not a suitable location for such an event.

“We are sure that this will come as a tremendous relief to all residents in both Wetherby and surrounding parishes and particularly by those residents who were most affected by the public disorder following the recent festival.

“Notwithstanding the joint decision by Stockeld Park and Mint, we believe that vital aspects resulting in this decision were the coming together of communities, the invaluable efforts of our elected representatives, and the strong support of North and West Yorkshire Police Forces.”

Last week, following a request from North Yorkshire Police, Harrogate Borough Council declared it would hold a review of the festival licence that it had granted in August.

But in light of the withdrawal of the festival from Stockeld, the local authority confirmed that this has now been cancelled, along with a public meeting organised by Wetherby ward councillors for December 13.

The statement from Mint and Stockeld Park, which came hours after the licence review was announced, said: “This year’s Mint Festival was hosted at Stockeld Park in good faith following consultations with Harrogate Borough Council, the emergency services and numerous local stakeholders.

“We were pleased with the festival itself, which on the whole ran smoothly.

“There have, however, been issues raised with access and egress to and from the Festival and therefore the suitability of this location for the event.”

They added that customers’ safety and neighbourhood relations were important.

“Unfortunately on the day Mint was let down by a number of our specialist agents in relation to this issue, particularly how festival goers were allowed to disperse after the event.”

They apologised to residents who were affected and added: “We have, therefore, come to the mutual decision to no longer host Mint Festival at Stockeld Park.

“Mint Festival will be announcing a new home at a site where it can continue to grow, with the best possible experience for customers and other stakeholders.”

Wetherby ward councillors John Procter, Alan Lamb and Gerald Wilkinson also reacted with delight that the licence had been surrendered after voicing opposition to the plans at the Harrogate Licensing Committee last August and working for the withdrawal.

Coun Wilkinson said: “I attended the initial licensing meeting in August to set out our opposition to the proposals and it is a great pity that our concerns were not listened to at the time.

“We would like to put on record our thanks to the efforts of local residents.”

Coun Procter added: “We were strongly opposed to the event when it was first suggested earlier this year.

“We rightly thought that the levels of disruption would be significant and that it was simply not an appropriate venue for this type of event.

“We also thought that the impact on Wetherby residents would clearly be unacceptable.

“We are pleased that it has now been cancelled and residents will not have to put up with a repeat in the future.”

Coun Lamb said it was great news that the festival had been cancelled at Stockeld Park, which is owned and run by the Grant family.

“Local residents were badly affected by low level crime, congestion and anti-social behaviour when the event took place in September this year.

“We have been working with residents to make sure that the licence was reviewed and having secured that it now seems that the organisers have realised that the town of Wetherby is not prepared to let this event happen again.”