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'Unreserved apology' as Newbury Real Ale Festival pleads for licence

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The Newbury Real Ale Festival has admitted it could have done better to control noise levels at this year’s event.

In a bid to save the show, it has pledged that "if it is too loud, we will turn it down".

The one-day-a-year festival at Northcroft was defending its licence after local residents demanded a review, claiming that the event was now "too big and too loud".

Newbury Real Ale Festival
Newbury Real Ale Festival

“Organisers seem unable to control it,” said Andrew Wyper, who added that the event should move to a bigger venue like the Newbury Showground.

“My children had to listen to aggressive behaviour and foul language," he said. "My ears were ringing at the end of the day. It is now a large corporate music event. Each year it gets louder and bigger. A quieter community event for real ales would be supported.”

The organisers also promised to switch the stage back to its previous location, and said this, along with some technical issues associated with the stage location, had contributed to the noise levels which busted the allowed limit on its licence.

They said the stage was moved this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Legal representative Jon Payne gave West Berkshire Council’s licensing sub committee ‘an unreserved apology’ for the noise, adding that it was never the intention of the event to cause a disturbance in the locality.

“Communication is the sum of it all,” he said. “This matter could have been resolved by a telephone call at the time.”

The meeting heard that on the day of the event at Northcroft Park, the council’s own environmental health officer was told he was not able to speak with event organisers as they were ‘too busy’.

Russell Davidson said "elevated sound levels were recorded throughout the day" and pointed to the failure of the event’s sound technicians to monitor the levels.

The committee heard that the council’s monitored levels were different to those taken on site by the organisers.

Another Newbury resident, Tim Polack, spoke up for the event. “It is an ideal event and the town would be worse off if it did not take place,” he said.

It was further backed by Melissa Hughes, the chief executive of Newbury Business Improvement District and Visit Newbury, who claimed the event is "a key event which helps put Newbury on the map".

The festival, which takes place for one day in September, is billed as the biggest one-day beer festival in the South of England.

Now in its second decade, it is run as a community event, supporting local breweries and musicians, and raising around £100,000 for local charities.

Committee members will now spend the next few days digesting the evidence before announcing a decision.

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