Friday, March 19, 2010

Police force Strawberry Fair 2010 to be cancelled


In view of the continuing hostility of the police towards Strawberry Fair and their decision to ignore the decision of elected councilors to grant it a license to run in 2010, the organisers have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel this year's event.

They are but one of a number events that are bearing the brunt of an overzealous
police force, and last summer proved that even established, gated events (Big Green,
Thimbleberry), with almost non-existent crime rates are not immune from this.

An organiser said today'S.F. has been running for about 37 years. We are pretty much the last remaining free, ungated and open-to-all festivals in the country and we are now facing the very real risk of only being able to run if we're gated, with security searches for everyone entering the site. As part of their legal team the police have one of the top licensing lawyers in the country and the chief officer from Somerset and Avon,the man reponsible for all the trouble Big Green had last year. In a 78 page
document presented to the licensing board they claimed that music and dancing led to
drug taking, and so consequently we we're encouraging anti-social behaviour. Also
note that these issues have only arisen since we've refused to pay them.

Justin Argent, Chair of Strawberry Fair said “Gaining a secure license that will allow the Fair to continue for many years to come has to be the top priority for the Strawberry Fair committee. The police appeal of the decision made by Cambridge City Council means that we now have to put all our efforts into fighting that appeal, rather than into the detailed preparations for the 2010 Fair which should now be taking place, and we are not prepared to compromise either the appeal or the Fair itself.

"The timetable for the appeal means that we will not know whether the Fair can go ahead as planned until far too late in the day. We do not want to pass this risk on to the many supportive suppliers, traders, and artists whose livelihoods would be severely damaged by a last minute cancellation. By taking this decision now, people will be able to find alternative activities for 2010 safe in the knowledge that we are doing all we can to make sure Strawberry Fair returns in 2011 and beyond.

Cambridgeshire Police have made it absolutely clear they do not want the event to go ahead and have put an incredible amount of time and resource into preventing it. We feel the police action shows just how far out of step they are with the people of Cambridge, who have shown overwhelming support for the event; and had the same enthusiasm been spent on working with us rather than fighting us, many of the key concerns would have been dealt with.

We sincerely hope that the police will make use of the extra time before the 2011 event to develop a more sympathetic and realistic policing strategy - and we look forward to entering into detailed discussions with them, the Council and local communities to ensure that there is a secure future for this well-attended and popular cultural event."

The programming committee will be working on plans for alternative, venue-based activities across the city through out the year to provide an outlet for the fantastic local talent showcased every year at the Fair. Keep your eye on www.strawberry-fair.org.uk and the local press over the coming weeks for details.

ENDS

Notes to editors

• Strawberry Fair is a not-for-profit event run entirely by unpaid volunteers.
• External funding is not accepted making the event truly independent.
• Local artists and traders are prioritised when bookings are made.
• Over 1000 volunteers help make Strawberry Fair happen each year.

For further information please contact

Martin Twiss,
Committee Member,
Strawberry Fair
martin@strawberry-fair.org.uk

Justin Argent
Chair
Strawberry Fair
Justin@strawberry-fair.org.uk
m: 07881 930998