THURROCK Councillors have thrown out an attempt by kill-joy police to stop a mulled wine and carol concert from going ahead over a “fear of crime”.
Thurrock Council’s licensing sub-committee met on Monday after Essex Police objected to a Christmas carol concert due to take place at Grays Town Park Community Café on December 13, siting “the prevention of crime and disorder”.
The committee heard the temporary event notice was for no more than 40 customers and volunteers to enjoy a band and mulled wine from 6.30pm to 8.30pm inside the café.
Simone Barnes, Essex Police licensing officer for Brentwood and Thurrock, acknowledged the applicant, Tina Holland, was of “good character” but said an extension to a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)for Grays town centre to cover the park since April was behind the objection and he called on the committee to adjudicate.
He added police had been unaware of the extension until three weeks ago. In the meantime, two larger events had gone ahead without objection from the police and without incident.
However, Mr Barnes said: “I’ve spoken with the inspector for community policing in Thurrock as well as the team sergeant who covers the park itself. They’ve highlighted some concern over a number of antisocial behaviour incidents including violence that have been attributed to the park and those were found to be due to having consumed alcohol
“The event itself, were it packaged anywhere else I probably wouldn’t have an issue with it. Where it is, it has created a conflict between the Licensing Act and the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act.”
Ms Holland told the committee she was grateful to the extension of the PSPO to cover the park as it had cut antisocial behaviour, but she said: “I do find it hard to believe that the community police officers did not know about the PSPO coming in April.
“There have been two much larger events in the park and there have been no issues. This by scale is 100 times smaller and is just purely to take place inside the café.”
Ms Holland added: “We did it last year as it didn’t come under the PSPO last year. It was very successful. We only sold mulled wine to people attending the concert. No one came in off the street. Everyone was there in the café enjoying the band and singing carols.”
The committee voted to allow the event to proceed.