Hertfordshire Oktoberfest faces licensing panel obstacle after neighbours voice fears
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Hertfordshire Oktoberfest faces a council hearing amid fears a “bigger and better” event will attract antisocial behaviour.
Organisers of the knees-up, which took place in Harpenden Common last year, are set to host part of their event in Hertford in 2023.
Barbican Events Limited promises this year’s bash will be “a traditional German celebration filled with live oompah band, axe throwing, Oktoberfest games, local artists, a DJ and of course, Prost beer”.
But the firm needs a licence from East Herts District Council to launch in Hartham Common.
The authority is due to debate the plans on Monday, May 22.
Some neighbours have written to the council with complaints.
One resident in Mead Lane, which is near Hartham Common, fears the event will be an “alcohol-fuelled circus” which could “ruin the peaceful life of local residents who will suffer the noise, disturbance, antisocial behaviour and upset”.
They said: “When I chose to buy this flat and to live here, it was for the beauty of the location and the peace it would give myself and my girlfriend, after the very difficult preceding few years which saw my girlfiend’s sister pass away from cancer at the end of January 2020, followed by the pandemic in which I lost my job and became so ill that I ended up in … hospital.
“We did so in full knowledge that the common is a public space, but we also felt we could rely on the local authorities to protect it for the enjoyment of all.
“I have seen that happen, with the patrols of police particularly last summer who tried their best to guard against the alcohol and/or drug-induced antisocial behaviour of a proportion of Hertford’s youth.
“While the event advertises itself as over 18-only, it will not stop people getting in with fake IDs of the type any parent on the council will know is all too easy for their children to obtain.”
The resident said they “would not object to other types of organised events, such as family days, organised walks, organised runs, fêtes, basically anything which is more limited in scale”.
But they added: “To have this right underneath my windows all weekend is an infringement of my rights to enjoy my home peacefully.”
A Folly Island resident said: “There are lots of problems going on in Hartham and this will only add to them.
“Having music played from early afternoon until gone 10pm, children who live on the island have school on the Monday, and people work shifts and will not be able to sleep during the day with this going on.”
A third suggested there is a “push to monetise our parks”, and Hertford Town Council said its members would like to see a detailed cleaning regime, with fears the event could bring “litter, broken glass and vomit”.
‘Subjective’ views ‘carry very little weight’
East Herts District Council staff have been through neighbours’ letters and said fake ID “is a problem that faces all premises licensed to sell age-restricted goods, and is not in itself a reason to refuse an application if due diligence is shown by the applicant”.
It reads: “[One] representation details the disturbance from music until 10pm and the impact on children who must go to school on the Monday.
“The hours requested for music end at 8pm on the Sunday, so this should be less of a potential issue.
“The interested party is not saying that their children will be disturbed, but are offering a subjective opinion that other people’s children could potentially be disturbed.
“Reference is made to people who do shift work not being able to sleep during the day, but again this is speculation … and so should carry little weight.
“The potential impact on the residential area is a valid consideration.”
Licensing staff also said they asked the police for feedback after the Harpenden event, held across two weekends in 2022.
Hertfordshire Constabulary told the authority there were six recorded crimes linked with the Oktoberfest on the first weekend.
“The licence holder was contacted and took the concerns seriously, and implemented a range of measures designed to minimise crime within the event location, outside on the common and into town,” the report reads.
Police recorded two crimes involving one person on the second weekend, but “local police officers on duty and monitoring the event stated it was much better controlled by staff both inside and outside the event”.
Hertford event follows ‘huge success’ of Harpenden knees-up
Hertfordshire Oktoberfest organisers have said it is launching a Hertford event “after the huge success of our previous Oktoberfest events in 2021 and 2022”.
In its application, Barbican Events said: “The event will take place in a big top tent on the common.
“It will be situated with the stage and speaker facing northeast, which will be directionally facing away from residents to reduce noise nuisance.”
The firm has applied to play music and serve alcohol on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings only, and has said alcohol can only be taken off-premises at the end of the event in plastic cups.
The event is scheduled for Friday, October 13 until Sunday, October 15 in Hertford.
A second weekend is set to take place at Hertfordshire County Showground near St Albans between Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28.