Monday, July 27, 2009

Big Green Gathering to relocate to Vestas

The Big Green Gathering has been shut down by the police, Mendip District Council (Cannards Grave Rd., Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT, 01749 343399) - and some high up official or minister, presumably in the Home Office (Telephone: 020 7035 4848 (09:00-17:00 Mon-Fri).

In the past they have tried to price it out of the market by imposing unreasonable standards of security, creating ever rising security costs.

This controlling action will backfire on them as disappointed would-be BGG attendees, with their bags ready packed and a window in their diaries, head for the Vestas factory in Newpoort Isle of Wight to support the sit-in at the wind turbine blade factory. Seize the Day are already there with a song to back the action, and Mr Plod's hamfisted attempt to frustrate the hippies will contribute greatly to the size of the demonstration. Remember that the Isle of wight is not the enemy - they aim to turn Wight into an eco-island. The real enemy is the bowler hatted, conservative (and Conservative) mindset of Whitehall Civil Servants who are determined to further the cause of nuclear power and Government Control at all costs.

We are going to need wind turbines. The Vestas factory can change from building American style blades to British style blades. This is a situation borne of Government malice and stupidity.

Big Green Gathering Shut Down

“It’s political” Chief Superintendent tells BGG Director

Chief Superintendent Paul Richards admitted to a Big Green Gathering Director that the decision to shut down the Big Green Gathering was political and confirmed to the Chair of the Big Green Gathering that orders had come from the highest level.

During a meeting today between the police and directors of the Big Green Gathering, the superintendent said the decision to shut down the BGG was taken over a week ago, confirming the statement from the BGG lawyer that the ‘injunction was a red herring.’

Directors from the BGG are horrified at this partisan interpretation of licencing law. Big Green Gathering Chair Brig Oubridge said, “At the multi-agency meeting on Thursday 23rd July, we were still negotiating with the police and the council under the genuine belief that things were progressing and we were continuing to spend money on infrastructure, wages and security. If they knew they were going to cancel the event, we can only conclude that this drive to increase expenditure appears to be a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the Big Green Gathering.

The injunction served on the Big Green Gathering was primarily addressing the fact that the Big Green Gathering did not obtain the necessary road closure despite the fact that the Highways Agency had previously indicated that this would be done.

The Big Green Gathering has been running an event since 1994 and never before has public safety been an issue. The BGG has an exemplary record on health and safety and crime levels have always been low for the number of people on site.

Despite the concerns over the behaviour of the Council and the Police, event organisers will work with them to ensure the safety of those at the premises and ensure that they leave the land in an orderly fashion. Brig concluded, “We are very aware of our responsibilities to those already on the site and very sad for all those who were coming to enjoy one of the most peaceful festivals in the UK.”


Hairyloon said...

This would appear to be the closest thing to an official statement, and it is a very serious allegation

DocRichard said...

PS I phoned the council to find out their side, and the nice officer who answered the phone said yes, s/he was disappointed too, as s/he was planning to attend.

The updated tel no. for Mendip District Council is 01749648999. Their Customer Services is experiencing a very high volume of calls, so you should ask for Herr David Thompson, CEO of the Council.

Hairyloon said...

Funnily enough, Chief Richards has no knowledge of the comments attributed to him.

Would you like to explain where it is you think they have come from?

DocRichard said...

Hairyloon, good question. Though we
would be naive to accept everything that Mr Plod says as gospel.

I am checking.

Hairyloon said...

Fair point, but at the present time the balance of probabilities is heavily in his favour.

DocRichard said...

I checked back with the original source, and s/he (who unfortunately wants to remain anonymous) stands by his/her hearing Richards say that to him/her (sorry about this).

If Paul Richards would be prepared to sign an affidavit to confirm that he had absolutely no kind of pressure put on him from politicians or government officials to contrive to have the BGG closed down, that might somewhat remove the suspicion that the closure was political.

The other line of evidence is that some clerk somewhere is sitting staring at an email that would confirm the political motive. Leak it baby, leak it...

Did you get through to Richards on the phone? I have been thinking about doing so, but I have a wife and children to think of.

Hairyloon said...

On the face of the evidence thus far presented, I do not feel any need to Press Chief Richards any further on the subject. I would rather he concentrate his efforts on catching criminals.

I am minded to ask the council for the evidence they intended to present to the High Court. I don't see any reason why they wouldn't...
unless of course it was just a bluff as you suggest.
Or do you believe the High Court is in on the conspiracy?

Hairyloon said...

Here is a simple question for you.
Why did the security company pull out?
This does appear to be a significant lynch pin for the council's decision.

Word is that they wanted, and did not get an advance payment.
Considering the past financial difficulties of the BGG, this does not seem an unreasonable requirement, and since most of the tickets are sold in advance, it should not have been very difficult to comply.

DocRichard said...

"Hairyloon" writes:

"I do not feel any need to Press Chief Richards any further on the subject. I would rather he concentrate his efforts on catching criminals".

To be honest, I have not yet had the courage to contact him. I am becoming very nervous of the police, moving to this position from having in the past had an easy-going, profession-to-profession relationship with them.

To be sure, truth-seekers cannot and must not be diverted by fears that we might distract him from his crime catching role. I could tell you a story about Bristol CIDs aversion to catching criminals that would make your flesh creep.

It is fundamental to British policing that it should be apolitical, impartial and just. For the sake of the future of our democracy, we have to make sure that the police service is not used to further the aims of politicians or Governments.

Hairy, you introduced the conspiracy word, not me.

You ask why Stuart Security pulled out. Why not ask them? I am not primarily involved in this, except as a shareholder and erstwhile punter. I am interested in this affair as a civil liberty matter, and I think the motivation of the police is a simple key to an affair that has many complex aspects. In fact, your intervention has finally persuaded me to have the courage to write to Richards. So thanks, HairyLoon. You may be a hippie in disguise.

Hairyloon said...

We know why Stuart Security pulled out: they wanted a deposit they did not get.

The question is why did they not get it?

Presumably it was in the terms & conditions of the contract between Stuart & BGG, or if it was not, then perhaps BGG can take action against Stuart for breach of contract.

DocRichard said...

I think i can answer that. They did not get it because their "deposit" came in at (I recall) 40% of the total fee.

Unusual way to do business, is it not? Deposits usually are IRO 10%.

Hairyloon said...

It doesn't really matter how much the deposit was for, either it was agreed in the T&C or it was not.

And it is not uncommon to expect full payment in advance, especially if you don't have great faith in the financial stability of the customer.

How far down the list of creditors was the security firm last time and how promptly were they paid?

DocRichard said...

Hairy, I do not have the details you seek, and suggest you put your qq to the BGG website.

I am interested to find where you are coming from, as you seem very keen to justify the actions taken by the authorities to block a Green festival. Apart from the pleasure it gives to its participants, the BGG also sets a gold standard for other festivals, who ask the BGG organisers for advice regarding recycling &c.

Are you against all festivals, or are you against the greening of festivals? Would you perchance be a climate change sceptic? I only ask because if you are a sceptic, this would condition the framework of any replies I give, since to a sceptic, the whole idea of greening our lifestyle is an absurdity, since climate change sceptics so not share the same axiomatic basis as earthlings.

I hope you do not mind me asking. Come to think of it, even if you do mind, I am still going to ask, because this is my blog.

Hairyloon said...

A fair enough question.

I am asking you because, early on, I asked the BGG and they quoted me your blog. I don't know if this is the original source of the statement, but at the time, it was the only one I could find.

It is a great shame that the event did not happen, a great many people have been let down

But I have seen first hand, some degree of disorganisation from the BGG, and I am afraid this would appear to be the most likely expanation for the failure of the event.

The alternative explanation put forward by the BGG: that is anybody's fault but theirs, includes some very serious allegations, but before I go to any great effort to investigate them, I need a bit of convincing that it is not just a simple cock up.

DocRichard said...

I see. I am pleased they referred you to my blog.

I hope you agree that the evidence is building (road closure, fire services, late notice, insistence on disproportionate amounts of security) that the partnerships of authorities have constructed a pathway of events leading to the closure. I have not seen any evidence of incompetence on the part of the BGG collective.

Hairyloon said...

They didn't refer me to it, they quoted it, I had to find it myself.

And yes, certainly something stinks, but I am puzzled why the BGG are so reticent about producing the evidence that absolves them.
So are the council come to that.

Hairyloon said...

Well, I am still digging, and I have found that what Chief Richards is alleged to have said was:
"the decisions to stop this event going ahead go well above my pay grade."

Not quite the same as "It's political" or that that "orders had come from the highest level"

Hairyloon said...

I should point out that I don't myself claim that that is what he said: I found the allegation here:

Also, I don't think it appropriate that you publish the Chief's direct email address. I'm sure he gets more than enough SPAM.
It is bad form to publish anybody's email address at the best of times.

DocRichard said...

Good point about email HL - so this Comment should be read as sitting above and before yours, as I cannot edit them, just delete and paste new. I have deleted the @, but think that as a public servant, the Chief is accountable to the public for his decisions.

' Not quite the same, but if true, this is an admission that the decision was made well higher up. And there are politicians higher up.

I have written to Mr Paul Richards ( Paul.Richards [at] ) asking if the statement you have dug up is accurate.

Thanks for your persistence on this valuable point, Hairyloon.

Hairyloon said...

Did you have any problem getting an answer from the Chief through the proper procedure? (i.e. through the office).
I certainly did not, he answered very promptly and politely.

To publish his email address (even without the "@" does nothing to gain you any respect IMO.

More interesting discussion to be found here:

Hairyloon said...

"Because a temporary road closure order could not be put in place in time, BGG applied for (at the last minute) an Emergency Road Closure Order.

This order was granted - however they also needed a 'Temporary Sign Plan' to go alongside it. It seems this was indeed submitted at the last minute. It was not acceptable and rejected at lunch time on the Friday."

Hairyloon said...

You all right there Doc'?
You've gone all quiet on me.

DocRichard said...

I had a look at the efestivals thread, but it was like most discussion threads, random ramblings.

One persistent and unsubstantiated assertion is that it was the fault of the BGG colective not getting their shit together. An easy assertion to make, but a one sided and easily-accepted prejudice, given that some of the directors have long hair and beards - but then so does Richard Branson.

The facts of the case tend to extend themselves , but in essence,

1 Stuart Security withdrew after making demands for cash in a time frame that made them impossible to meet.
2 The issue of the road closure seems to be a council cock-up.
3 The objections of MDC to the Midland Fire Services were not well grounded in fact.
4 Historically, MDC has been racking up the security costs year-on-year, in a way that is disproportionate to the amount of crime.

Interesting point here: football clubs have to pay for the police-persons inside the ground, but the massed ranks of police outside the ground have to be paid for by the taxpayer. Is this also the case for the BGG?