Objections as Secret Garden Party looks to expand

THE Secret Garden Party festival is looking to expand again with organisers asking for a licence that would allow another 6,000 people onto the site at Abbots Ripton.

The festival, which has first organised in 2004, has a licence, granted in 2010, for 26,000 people – 9,000 workers and 17,000 patrons.

But the firm which holds the licence, Backwoodsman Limited, has applied to Huntingdonshire District Council to increase the overall capacity to 32,000 – 11,000 workers and 21,000 patrons.

The festival, which takes place on Lord de Ramsey’s land and is organised by a team headed by his son, Freddie Fellowes, is facing opposition from residents in Kings Ripton who are already concerned by the disturbance and crime created by the event.

One resident objecting to the increase in numbers states that the SGP caused a huge surge in reported crimes in Kings Ripton last year.

The stats show very low levels of crime throughout the year – the highest being three reported crimes in September. But when the SGP took place in July, that number increased to 115 reported crimes, including robberies, anti-social behaviour and vehicle crimes as well as other crimes, such as drug offences.

The letter adds: “This represents a significant failure in the prevention of crime and disorder by the applicants in 2011. The crime figure reflects on the reputation of our village and will have an impact on property prices.”

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Another main concern for residents objecting the application is noise levels. The SGP has strict conditions of when it can play music as well as restrictions on sound levels.

Kings Ripton Parish Council has written to HDC claiming the festival organisers breached sound levels and playing times in 2011, and has said that unless there is a clear commitment by Blackwoodsman to address the problems, the application should not be approved.

The parish council has asked for better security for the village, a plan to address traffic problems and to look at the SGB boundary fences blocking public footpaths.

Erica Ricks, of School Lane, Kings Ripton, adds in her letter to HDC: “Of real concern is the fact that Kings Ripton is suffering disproportionately from the effects of the event compared with the other neighbouring villages.

“This includes traffic queues, lack of security in the village and its environs, stray event goers parking and camping outside our houses, in the churchyard, and most of all that Kings Ritpon is downwind of the event when the prevailing wind is blowing.”

INFORMATION: The licence application is due to be heard by HDC next Thursday (January 26).