Herts Oktoberfest gets the green light after council grants licence to organisers
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Herts Oktoberfest has been given the green light after the council granted a licence to organisers.
Hertfordshire Oktoberfest took place in Harpenden Common in 2021 and 2022.
But “after the huge success of previous events”, the organisers have promised a “bigger and better” jamboree this year, with plans for a three-day event in a Hertford park.
At East Herts District Council’s licensing sub-committee meeting on Monday, May 22, councillors heard residents had concerns about noise and revellers in Folly Island, south of Hartham Common.
The organisers said residents’ concerns “had been taken on board” during the licensing process, and have agreed to more than 60 conditions to prevent nuisance and promote public safety.
The organisers have plans for a boat rescue on nearby rivers, and to position speakers and the stage facing northeast to limit noise in the residential area.
Tom Connolly, of Barbican Events, said: “We have had regular meetings and constant communication with the responsible authorities throughout the application process.
“We are a professional events company and work with professional event subcontractors.
“We understand each new location presents new challenges in promoting the four licensing objectives.”
He added: “The concerns raised, although valid, have been taken on board and we believe they are covered in our existing plans.
“Our aim is to work closely with the community, the responsible authorities, residents and local businesses to deliver a safe and enjoyable event for everyone.”
On the Hertfordshire Oktoberfest website, organisers promise “a traditional German celebration filled with live oompah band, axe throwing, Oktoberfest games, local artists, a DJ and of course, Prost beer”.
They said: “Satisfy your taste buds with our authentic German schwenkgrill serving delicious Bratwurst and other mouth-watering food options from our food stalls.
“Come together with friends and family for an unforgettable evening filled with good food, drinks and entertainment.”
Residents had raised fears the event would be an “alcohol-fuelled circus” which could “ruin the peaceful life of local residents who will suffer the noise, disturbance, antisocial behaviour and upset”.
One resident said they moved to a road near Hartham Common, Hertford in January 2020.
“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,” they said.
“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.”
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.”
One respondent who wrote to East Herts District Council supported the proposal.
“I have friends who own hospitality businesses in Hertford who are fully supportive of large events in the town,” they said.
“Times are hard for local hospitality businesses and the Oktoberfest will be good for local trade.
“Local economy aside, Hertford needs to be more welcoming for large events and people need to welcome positive changes.”
In their report to councillors, East Herts District Council licensing officers said “subjective” opinions and “speculation” could not be used as a basis for decision-making.
The council’s committee deliberated in private before making their ruling to grant the premises licence, which allows Hertfordshire Oktoberfest to sell alcohol for on-site drinking and play recorded and live music.
Councillor John Dunlop (Grn, Hunsdon), chair of the licensing committee, said: “In coming to this decision, the sub-committee is mindful to strike a healthy balance between residents’ interests and supporting the local community.
“Members were mindful of the concerns addressed by the interested parties in relation to antisocial behaviour, to include noise, urination, litter and vomiting.”
For this reason, the committee decided not to allow visitors to take alcohol away from the event.
The entrance to Folly Island via Thornton Street will be patrolled by a bouncer, with revellers encouraged to access the event via Sainsbury’s.
Hertfordshire Oktoberfest at Hartham Common, Hertford, is due to take place between Friday, October 13 and Sunday, October 15.
A second weekend is due to take place in St Albans between Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28.