THURROCK Council’s Licensing Committee has pulled the plug on the controversial all-day music festival Dance Crusade that was scheduled for May this year.
The “revocation” of the licence came after a two day session of the committee at which Thurrock’s most senior police officers gave evidence documenting what they described as a “near catastrophe” at the festival held at the Orsett Showground last year.
The two day hearing, chaired by councillor Mike Stone heard a litany of drug-taking, drug dealing, violent behaviour but the police and council officer evidence also pointed to what they described as poor organisation by the organisers.
The police witnesses including Superintendent Ivor Harvey and Chief Inspector Paul Moor expressed genuine concern that they were on the verge of massive public disorder at the event.
Police Sgt Neil Carman stated: “I believe that due to the numbers of police deployed, tactics implemented and luck there was no serious injury or significant public disorder.”
Whilst Thurrock Council’s Environmental Health Officer, Terry Sprackling slammed the events organiser.
He said: “I have organised, arranged and inspected many events in the past, and from a health, safety and welfare viewpoint this event was the
most poorly managed event I have seen.
“There was not enough staff to ensure a safely run event. I suggest that although Mr Jimmy Lee and his staff tried their best they do not have the knowledge or experience to run this particular type of event.”
Essex Police documented a series of concerns from the first meetings with the organisers, Jimmy Lee and Paul King from Orsett.
1. Supt Ivor Harvey was taken aback at the lack of planning for the event.
2. At the first meeting, the police reported that “Mr Lee’s inexperience became abundantly clear.”
3. Inadequate toilet facilities left “men and women exposing themselves and urinating in public.”
4. By mid-evening, the atmosphere changed. The police were so concerned about public disorder that they called up the Riot Squad.
5. A complaint from the Whitmore Arms that an eighty-strong group of people were urinating, vomiting and swearing as they wandered through the village of Orsett.
In a written submission, the pub also described people “snorting cocaine’ in the pubs toilets.
The police report catalogues details of the arrests including a man arrested with a large number of tablets concealed in both shoes.
Supt Harvey explained that he made the decision to only arrest where absolutely necessary. Manpower was raised from 50 to 75 but it was as everyone left that gave the police most cause for concern.
The police described a “nightmare scenario” of coaches, cars and taxi’s congregating as drunken and drugged revellers spilled out onto the dark Rectory Road in Orsett.
Chief Inspector Moor said: “One woman walked straight into the path of an on-coming coach. I managed to push her away from it just in time.
“There could have been a death but I was met with a torrent of abuse by the crowd.”
Mr Lee and Mr King were represented by Palmer’s solicitor, David Dadds.
Committee member, clr Terry Hipsey asked Mr Sprackling what his assessment of the 2011 plans for Dance Crusade was.
He said: “You can have all the plans you like but unless you have the competence and experience and expertise to execute them, then the plans don’t mean a thing.
“They are nice guys but totally out of their depth.”
The operation cost £56,000. YourThurrock understands that the contribution from Dance Crusade of £5,000 has yet to be paid.
YourThurrock has attempted to contact a representative of Dance Crusade but they had not replied at the time of going to press.