Licensing concerns over noise and drugs at festival

Illegal Rave. Photo from Pexels/Unsplash.

The festival was held at Cowles Drove in Hockwold last year - and the organisers want to bring it back. - Credit: Pexels/Unsplash.

Concerns over drug use and noise disturbance were raised at a hearing into whether a music and lifestyle festival should return to the Fens.

The organisers of the ‘Paradise Gardens’ event - which took place last year at Cowles Drove, in Hockwold-cum-Wilton, near Brandon - are requesting permission to bring it back over the course of five days in September this year and in the years that follow. 

A report by Norfolk Police, objecting to the application, noted of last year’s festival: “There was social media footage from the dance stage, of a DJ pulling on a large spliff, to the evident delight of the crowd and then blowing a pall of smoke to rapturous cheers and applause.”

Councillors discussed the application at a meeting of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council's licensing committee on Wednesday.

One councillor asked what the organisers, Urban Hydro Ltd, would do to stop such an incident happening again - saying that it amounted to “a DJ promoting the use of cannabis”. 

Rachel White, speaking on behalf of the company, said she questioned “whether it actually was a cigarette containing cannabis or not, which none of us can at this point prove.”

She added: “Regardless… it’s not acceptable for that to be done, because it’s promoting the use of it, whether it actually was.”

The artist photographed would not be invited to return this year, she said. 

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The event would include a trade fair element, in which exhibitors sell propagators for growing plants, but Ms White stressed that there were many uses for such equipment, not just growing cannabis. 

She said: “Unfortunately, yes, some people do use it for illegal means, but the same could be said of anything. Some people get in their car and drive it when they’re drunk. Some people use firearms illegally.

“Everything that there is in the world can be used for a good purpose and a bad purpose.”

She added that Urban Hydro was prepared to work constructively with the police to ensure the event ran smoothly. 

One resident said the event would impinge upon local villagers' human right to privacy. 

He said people were last year subjected to an "unacceptable 'thump, thump, thump' of the music that was constant, for twelve hours of each day..."

Ms White said the organisers would look at the orientation of speakers, and the wind direction, to try and reduce how much sound travels. 

The borough council's licensing sub-committee will issue a decision within five days.