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WOMAD music festival faces legal challenge from police
Wiltshire Police are challenging the legality of the licence granted for this year’s WOMAD music festival after failing to reach an agreement over special policing services.
The decision means festival organisers could have to wait until just over a week before the planned event, from July 26 to 29, before they know whether their licence has been approved, unless organisers and the police can come to a prior agreement.
This allows for the standard 28-day consultation period before a hearing is held by Wiltshire Council, the licensing authority.
The World Of Music, Arts and Drama event at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, attracts thousands of people to the area, providing a huge boost to the local economy.
Tickets have already been selling fast with the full allocation to people living in the Malmesbury already snapped up along with the park and camp tickets.
A statement from Wiltshire Police, released today, read: “WOMAD and Wiltshire Police did not reach an agreement in relation to special policing services for the 2012 WOMAD event by the agreed deadline in June. As a result, Wiltshire Police are now challenging the legality of the license for the event.
“Discussions with the organisers of WOMAD continue and we hope to reach an appropriate resolution to this matter in due course.”
WOMAD said they were ‘surprised’ to learn via the media that Wiltshire Police are requesting a judicial process around this year’s festival licence.
A spokesman said: “As is the case every year, WOMAD has been in ongoing and open discussions with Wiltshire Police about the policing strategy for the 2012 festival for several months, and in a letter received on June 11 the police imposed a five-day deadline for agreement.
“WOMAD submitted a revised proposal for policing by the imposed deadline.
“We now know the proposal has been rejected by the Wiltshire Constabulary, and we are seeking clarification for the reasons they have taken this action.”
WOMAD said that they have enjoyed a ‘positive and constructive’ relationship with the police over the past five years, making it one of the safest major festivals in the country. In their statement, WOMAD also reflected on the importance of the event to the local economy.
A spokesman said: “WOMAD and the Wiltshire Constabulary will continue to work together to present the county’s finest festival, a festival that has been embraced by the communities of north Wiltshire and brings so much economic benefit to local businesses and people during difficult times.
“Both sides fully anticipate a successful outcome from further discussions.”
Wiltshire and Malmesbury town councillor Simon Killane is keen to see the licence issue resolved. He said: “WOMAD is a very important event. This year there will be a very big crowd and it’s a really good family festival.”