Campaigners have welcomed Harrogate Borough Council’s announcement that it will review the three-year licence held by Mint Festivals to hold its controversial dance event at Stockeld Park.
Complaints of traffic chaos, litter, loud music and people from the festival urinating in private gardens flooded in from residents neighbouring the site when it was held at the venue, near Wetherby, for the first time in September.
Harrogate Borough Council announced this week that it has launched a formal review of the licence, following a request from North Yorkshire Police and a campaign by householders near the park.
Resident Jim Walton, who is campaigning for the licence to be revoked, told the News: “We are very pleased with the decision of North Yorkshire Police to seek a review of a licence for an event which has the potential for causing so much disorder and distress for the residents of Wetherby and the North Yorkshire parishes of Spofforth, Sicklinghall and Follifoot.
“We are delighted with the way in which the communities have come together on this issue, the strong support of Wetherby Town Council and, in particular, ward councillors Gerald Wilkinson, Alan Lamb, John Procter, and Harrogate Borough Councillor Shirley Fawcett.
“We should also stress that we have had very helpful responses from North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Police and Police Commissioners, respectively, at a time when they are under considerable pressure.”
Mr Walton added that a public meeting will take place at Wetherby Town Hall on Wednesday, December 13 at 7pm to inform the public about the licence review process.
He added that a North Yorkshire Police officer will make a presentation and ward councillor Gerald Wilkinson and neighbouring council officials will be present.
Coun Stuart Martin, chairman of Harrogate Borough Council’s licensing committee, said: “It is important that events which are licensed by the council operate without impacting on the licensing objectives. Where an impact is demonstrated, the council will take the appropriate action.
“I would encourage anyone who would like to comment on the recent Mint Festival and the police’s concerns to let us know their views so that they can be taken into account as part of the review of its licence.”
The licence held by Mint Festivals allows entertainment and the sale of alcohol at Stockeld Park on two occasions per year for up to a maximum of three days in total. Attendance is limited to 19,999 people and events must finish by 11pm.
Under the Licencing Act 2003, an application can be made to the licensing authority for a review of a licence because of problems - but they must be related to preventing crime and disorder, public nuisance, public safety or protecting children from harm.
North Yorkshire Police has requested a review of the licence of the event, which attracted about 15,000 people, because of crime and disorder and public safety including failure to manage people off site and poor transport plans.
Sergeant Matt France, North Yorkshire Police’s licensing manager, said: “Two of North Yorkshire Police’s key priorities are to ‘protect the public from harm’ and to ‘support vulnerable people’.
“The organiser hadn’t predicted that hundreds of festival-goers would leave the festival on foot, the risks associated with this and the negative impact this would have on neighbouring towns and villages.
“Triggering the review procedure enables the council to revisit the licence and the conditions attached to it, in light of evidence from this year’s event.”
Days after the festival, Stockeld Park estate manager George Grant told the News they were “deeply troubled” by a number of apparent lapses on the part of Mint Festivals.
Mr Grant this week said he was to meet co-organiser Shane Graham and added: “I will make an announcement thereafter.”
A council official said a 28-day public notice period has now started, providing residents, local businesses, statutory agencies, ward councillors and other interested parties with the chance to take part in the review, by making representations either in support or against the licence.
Following the close of the 28-day notice period on Monday, December 25, a public hearing of the council’s licensing sub-committee will be held within 20 working days to consider all representations and decide if any action should be taken. Respondents will be informed of the date, time and location of the hearing and will be given the opportunity to speak.
The licensing sub-committee will then need to decide whether to revoke or modify the licence or leave it unchanged.
To take part in the review, visit www.harrogate.gov.uk/have-your-say and select “The Licensing Authority at Harrogate Borough Council has received an application for the review of a premises licence for Mint Festival”.
To make representations in writing, send them to: FAO The Licensing Team, Safer Communities, Harrogate Borough Council, PO Box 787, Harrogate, HG1 9RW.
Mint Festivals did not provide a response to the licence review announcement.