Police among 200 protests to festival plan

Ross Taylor and Princess Royal

Corkers boss Ross Taylor welcomes HRH Princess Royal on a visit to Corkers Crisps at Pymoor in 2019. The following year the factory burnt down. - Credit: Archant

A handful of councillors - collectively a licensing (statutory) subcommittee – will determine Ross Taylor’s application to turn his farm into a festival site.  

He believes his proposals will “put Pymoor back on the map”. 

Opponents, at the last count numbering over 200, believe it will be putting the village “back on the map” for the wrong reasons.  

And Cambridgeshire Police has raised “a number of concerns” and wants the committee to refuse it. 

The committee will hear of 214 individual objectors – and from the two that support it.  

East Cambridgeshire District Council says it will livestream the hearing that is scheduled for a 10am start on July 11.  

Location plan for Ross Taylor's festival application

Location plan for Ross Taylor's festival application - Credit: Google

"The full version of the representations will be available on the day of the hearing,” says a report to the committee.  

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Mr Taylor wants to use Willow Farm at Pymoor near Ely for festivals and outdoor events.  

His newly formed Big Sky Venue Ltd has applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council for a licence and says some events could extend to 24 hours.  

Mr Taylor told a local magazine, Fenscene, his main objective was to bring back the Pymoor show and to raise funds for the Ukrainian Lifeline appeal which he has supported.  

“We have a massive facility that is in the position to raise thousands of pounds for good causes,” he told the magazine.  

Police licensing officer PC Clare Metcalfe is surprised no pre-application advice was sought which would have helped police to understand better the business plan.  

She says that in theory, if approved, Mr Taylor’s company could host “large, live music events 365 days of the year” from 10am to 4am and for 24 hours on 12 occasions a year. 

Police were concerned about time scales of notification of events, potential public nuisance to residents caused by the events themselves and traffic.  

And PC Metcalfe said the event management plan lacked detail. 

There was no mention of how they would deal with traffic, access for emergency vehicles, parking, and pedestrian safety along unlit roads. 

Security, staffing levels and safety considerations, say police, also require more detail. 

PC Metcalfe says that such is the wide scope of the application, more information is needed. 

It is the scale and the number of events that has alarmed many villagers too.  

East Cambs Council says the application is to licence an area of land to hold festivals and events for up to 4,999 persons “including bespoke and seasonal events”.  

There would be 12 occasions a year when alcohol could be consumed throughout. 

And music, too, would not stop until the early hours.  

Mr Taylor has assured the council they would be notified at least 16 weeks in advance of every event.  

And all events would be run by a management plan approved by the council. 

Photo submitted to East Cambs licensing showing part of the 'estate' to be used for a festival site

Photo submitted to East Cambs licensing showing part of the 'estate' to be used for a festival site - Credit: ECDC

The report says Mr Taylor has also promised that “an appointed person is to be made responsible for aurally monitoring noise levels at the boundaries of the site”.  

Records would be kept and steps taken to reduce and control noise. 

A summary of objections include:  

* Concerns over the wide extent of licensing hours requested  

* The offered conditions may not be manageable depending upon scale  

* General traffic management concerns due to location  

* The site is in a rural location with unsuitable roads and footpaths incapable of dealing with the likely level of activity. 

* Accessibility for emergency vehicles 

* Increased crime and disorder as a result of people drinking and taking drugs  

* Concerns fire outbreaks may occur due to irresponsible behaviour  

* General anti-social behaviour  

* Littering  

* Drink driving concerns due to lack of public transport in the area  

* Noise outbreak from the licensable activities  

* Light outbreak from licensable activities  

* Protection of children concerns due to associated drug use at festivals and traffic issues  

* Wildlife concerns due to noise and light pollution 

* Public safety concerns due to drainage dykes, and loose cattle in fields 

* Insufficient police resource levels in the district.  

 Points raised to support the application included:  

* Economic benefits to local businesses  

* Opportunities for local bands  

* Opportunities for local people to enjoy local events  

The committee will be told that “at the time of writing the report no agreement between any of the parties have been made. 

“And no additional information has been provided from the applicant to address the points raised in the objections”.

HRH Princess Royal at Corkers

HRH Princess Royal dropping into Corkers at Pymoor in 2019. Now Willow Farm, Pymoor, could become a festival site - Credit: Archant

 The committee will be told that “in determining the premises licence application, members must provide the reasons for their decisions. 

“And consider their responsibilities under the Human Rights Act 1998, when balancing the rights of the applicant and the rights on those who may be affected.  

"Any decision taken must be appropriate and proportionate to the objective being pursued”. 

The committee will hear a “point of note” from the council planning department.  

It says that the proposed premises “do not hold suitable planning permission to cover the nature of the proposed activities. 

“And any use would instead be relying on the temporary use of land for up to 28 days in any calendar year. 

“The existence or lack thereof of suitable planning permission is not a reason in itself on which to base a decision, but officers felt it was useful information to include”.