Todd in the Hole festival gets late-night alcohol and food extension approval

PUBLISHED: 10:58 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:53 01 May 2019

Children playing in the hay at the first Todd in the Hole Festival. Picture: Todd in the Hole

Children playing in the hay at the first Todd in the Hole Festival. Picture: Todd in the Hole

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Organisers of a three-day music festival in Todds Green, near Stevenage, are to be allowed to serve food and alcohol to revellers until 1am - after seeking an extension from councillors.

The Counterfeit Stones performing at the first Todd in the Hole Festival. Picture: Grant McGonagleThe Counterfeit Stones performing at the first Todd in the Hole Festival. Picture: Grant McGonagle

Held for the first time last year, the Todd in the Hole festival – which features tribute bands and local musicians – had hoped to keep serving until 2am on the Friday and Saturday evenings when it returns on July 19-21.

But – after considering objections from local residents – members of the North Herts District Council Licensing sub-Committee said it would have to stop at 1am.

That's one hour later than the initial decision of the sub-committee in January, when the festival got the green light to become an annual event, but it's still an hour earlier than the 2am close of the public event – that organisers had hoped for.

In making their case for the licence 'variation', festival organisers suggested that stopping the sale of food and alcohol at midnight could cause some “disruption”.

They suggested festival goers who were upset or angry could become aggressive or 'loot' tents, in a bid to find alcohol.

And they said extending the hours alcohol and food could be sold would prevent crime and disorder, and keep festival-goers on site.

However, councillors on the sub-committee also considered objections from Wymondley Parish Council and a number of individual residents.

According to a written response on behalf of the parish council the location is “totally unsuitable” for the event and could cause “considerable nuisance” to residents.

Other objectors have pointed to noise nuisance, “rowdy behaviour” and traffic going to and from the event.

And one resident, objecting to the variation, wrote: “Keeping hundreds of people even longer into the early hours of the morning and plying them with more alcohol can surely only benefit the organisers and to the considerable detriment of the local people.

“Surely the local people are entitled to reasonable breaks from the loud music, inebriated strangers and heavy traffic that will be occupying the local area for the three – four days.”

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But ultimately the three-strong sub-committee agreed that the hours could be extended to 1am.

They said they were concerned that extending the licence for the sale of food alcohol to 2am would not allow enough time to clear the site by the end of the event.

But, they said: “Extending the hours by one, instead of two hours, was an appropriate way to ensure the licence was not breached and therefore promote the licensing objective of Prevention of Crime and Disorder.”

They also said signage would remind festival goers of the time that alcohol and food would stop to “assist in the orderly wind down of the event”.

And – mindful of residents' concerns about noise nuisance – they said signs reminding revellers to leave quietly would be appropriate.

Run for the first time last year, the festival is the brainchild of landowner Mark Watts, and local businessman David Nye who runs the Great British Sausage Company and the Crispy Duck Rotisserie.

Speaking at the initial hearing in January, Mr Nye – who has catered at some of the country's top festivals, including Glastonbury and V Festival – said he was keen to run a festival locally.

Mr Nye said it was in response to feedback that they had drawn up plans to extend the festival to include a third day and to open up the festival to campers.

And he outlined plans for a late-night marquee – primarily for campers – that would continue to play recorded music for up to 2,000 people, after the main stage finished at 11pm.

This year there are plans to add in children's entertainment and a rally of classic motorbikes, as well as encouraging festival goers to camp at the Bury Wood site, too.

Before last year's inaugural festival there was a petition against camel racing taking place, which attracted more than 11,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Animal rights activist Samantha Ken-Francis said using animals for entertainment was “unnecessary” and “sends us back to the dark ages”.

Mr Nye responded by saying they “take every step possible to go above and beyond when it comes to the safety of guests”, adding that the specialist company providing the camels “have previously worked with Sir David Attenborough and Disney, and take animal welfare very seriously”.

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