Road barrier could have stopped ravers

STEPHEN PULLINGER A wrangle over a right of way prevented the use of a barrier that could have stopped 1,000 rave goers trampling over a coastal beauty spot, it emerged today.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

A wrangle over a right of way prevented the use of a barrier that could have stopped 1,000 rave goers trampling over a coastal beauty spot, it emerged today.

Bank holiday revellers from all over Britain descended on Horsey Gap, near Yarmouth, for the third time in less than a month leaving a costly trail of damage and litter, and causing major disruption to the B1159 coast road.

John Sizer, regional property manager for the National Trust, which owns the beauty spot - an area of outstanding natural beauty and site of special scientific interest - said: “We have had a lockable barrier on the track to the site for six months but the county council highways department, which is responsible for part of it, has refused to support its use because they say it would be obstructing a highway.

“However, what has happened this weekend has galvanised our position. We need county council officials to get round the table with us and work out a way to deal with it.”

Mr Sizer said litter, likely to include drug paraphernalia, had been strewn over a wide area and the celebrated dune heathland habitat renowned for such species as natterjack toads and stonechat had been fire damaged and badly trampled.

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He said five trust staff would be involved in the clean-up on Tuesday and the cost would run to several hundred pounds at least.

Police were alerted to an impending rave by trust wardens early on Sunday and by 4.30am about 100 vehicles were arriving in Horsey.

It is thought the organisers, who brought powerful sound equipment, came from the Midlands and publicised the event using text messages and via the internet.

Insp Jamie Hollis said: “At its peak, later in the morning, there were about 1,000 people and 300-400 vehicles at the location. Parking on the coast road created such bottlenecks that we had to use traffic management. The road remained passable but there was considerable disruption.”

This morning only a few tired-looking revellers remained in the drizzle, and as they left the site, noticeably spoiled by rubbish ranging from bags and cans to toilet roll, police were using camera equipment to record number plates.

Chief Supt Charlie Hall said: “Our officers have monitored the event, done their best to ensure disruption was kept to an absolute minimum and gathered as much intelligence as possible. This information will be used to help us identify the organisers and to determine what action we will take over the coming days.”

He added that police would be meeting representatives from the National Trust and other interested parties over the coming days to consider what additional action needed to be taken to ensure a repeat of such an event was less likely.

Kevin Eastwood, owner of Poppylands restaurant opposite the site, hit out at the lack of action to stop the rave, saying the traffic disruption caused by it had reduced his normal Sunday trade by 30pc.

Landlady of the Nelson Head, Horsey, said: “They have turned the site into a tip and our trade has been dead. Our chef even had time to make a cake on Sunday.”

She said villagers had heard another rave was being organised imminently and were planning a meeting to discuss the issues.

County councillor Christopher Howe said he had visited the site and seen the “horrendous” litter problem to be cleared up.

He said he was aware of the complex rights of way issue but had already helped to set up a meeting, involving all the agencies, to find a way forward.

A county council spokesman added that the police had the power to close a road for up to seven days in an emergency situation.

Revellers, who would not get give the names, told the EDP they were not doing any harm, “just having a party” and they claimed police had discouraged them from clearing up litter, warning they might then be picked out and arrested as organisers.

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