Last night Amber Valley Borough Council considered the premises licence application for the Red White and Blue festival, but the BNP ultimately decided to withdraw the application in the face of new concerns on the part of Derbyshire Police. Access to the meeting at Ripley Town Hall was tightly restricted. Anti-fascists from Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP, Derbyshire Unite Against Fascism and Antifa held a protest outside which was surrounded by an inordinate number of police including evidence gatherers and a Forward Intelligence Team.
Derbyshire Constabulary initially had no objection to the application, requiring only that the applicants comply with conditions imposed last year. Craig Sutherland, solicitor for Derbyshire Police, told the meeting: “The fact is we are expecting trouble at this event. We didn’t object to this festival in 2007, and we didn’t object initially in 2008 however towards the end of May the intelligence picture changed. We have started to receive intelligence to say that groups opposed to the BNP may attack people attending this festival. Having a large number of individuals with opposing views together in one area like this is going to be a powder keg.”
Sutherland told the panel that the police would only be happy for the event to get a licence if it came attached with a number of new conditions including the erection of a seven foot high fence around the site and the installation of temporary security lighting.
Unsurprisingly, the BNP were less than happy about this and stormed out. John Walker, national treasurer of the BNP, whinged: “We came here with an open mind. As it went on we came to the conclusion that it was becoming a farce because of the hoops we were being asked to jump through by Derbyshire Police. The police have caved in to mob rule. We are going to withdraw this application and this event will go ahead without a licence.”
This is crucial. This is clearly a major victory for us and a pain in the arse for the BNP, but it won’t stop the festival taking place. If we want to achieve that we’re going to have to continue to build the campaign and mobilise for the day of action on Saturday August 16th.
For more on the licence debacle and our protest, check out these reports (some of them based on confused early information).
Amber Valley Borough Council, Red White and Blue Festival: premises licence application
BBC News, Protest held against BNP festival
Derbyshire Evening Telegraph, BNP festival will go ahead despite licensing setback
Heanor & Ripley News, BNP vows to go ahead with Denby festival