Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Big Green Gathering challenges the local authority over the last minute closure

The latest official version from BGG - a letter of complaint over the threat of an injunction and alleged misinformation relied on in support of that application. We will see where this goes.


Brig (BGG Ltd Chair) has requested I put this information on the forum for shareholders information.

This letter was sent yesterday
to Donna Nolan of Mendip District Council


Dear Ms Nolan

This is a formal letter of complaint and request for further information with regard to the actions of your authority taken in conjunction with Avon & Somerset Constabulary in order to prevent the Big Green Gathering 2009.

We wish to complain about the way in which the Big Green Gathering was stopped.

Following the announcement that Mendip District Council was to apply to the High Court in London for an injunction, we require answers regarding the following:-

The injunction required us to show:

1. That we had security teams in place. We fail to understand this requirement as at the multi-agency meeting held on 23rd July, Coast to Coast Security and Green Security were present and gave the Council assurances that they would fulfil their contracts. Both companies were paid significant amounts of money up front in lieu of their services. The director of Coast to Coast Security gave an undertaking at that meeting that he would fulfil the role of silver command at the event and his deputy would fulfil the role of bronze. An undertaking in writing to that effect was provided by email the following day in compliance with the ultimatum issued by Mendip DC.

We wish to complain at the harassment of our security companies by officers of Mendip Council. We understand that numerous telephone calls were made to the security companies to

a. Ascertain that they had received money

b. Encourage them not to take up the role of security providers at the Big Green Gathering.

2. That we had a road closure order and signage was in place. We were assured by yourselves and the police that there was no road closure order in place. We have now been given to understand and we have copies of the road closure order that was granted and posted up in the vicinity, dated 20th July. We understand in a reply to our solicitor, copied below, that the order may have been approved, subject to providing all the information requested on 24th July. Our Chairman emailed the highways department on 24th July and received no reply. Why was this? Why was there no witness statement from the highways department regarding the injunction if this was the most crucial element of the injunction according to the police? Can you explain why the road order was provisionally approved? We have emails assuring us that the signage would be delivered on the Monday.

“I now have the photos and have spoken to Donna Nolan about them. It would appear that the party line is that the Road Closure Order might have been provisionally approved subject to your providing all the information and documents requested on 24th July.

However, this begs the question as to why the Order on the gatepost is dated 20th July - 4 days earlier.

I think it fair to say that Donna Nolan was horrified and she is making urgent enquiries to find out exactly what went on here ...”

Our barrister further says that the road closure order was the primary reason that we could not fulfil the licence conditions and why we would have been in breach as it was impossible to clarify with the highways department over the weekend whether an order had been made. We reproduce part of his email below.

“The road closure development is of the utmost importance - since the alleged impossibility of obtaining Highways permission was pivotal to the advice I gave to surrender the licence.”

3. Fire Safety. We wish to understand why the fire services for the county did not complain at the time of the licence hearing if they thought the contractors hired by the Big Green Gathering were not competent. We wish to know why they chose the 23rd July, six days before the event to make their complaints. We further understand that a conversation took place between Midland Fire Services and the county fire services on Friday, 24th July whereby the county fire services were satisfied with the competency of Midland Fire, yet no mention of that is made in the witness statement by Duncan White. Please could we see the records of that conversation.

4. We wish to know when the witness statements were compiled. We understand that Mendip decided to apply to the High Court for an injunction after a meeting at 6.30 p.m. on Friday, 24th July. We find it difficult to believe that all the witness statements were prepared after that meeting, especially as they did not take into account conversations held on the Friday afternoon and the arrival of the statements to our solicitor would suggest that they had been written some time before.

5. We wish to know why the police stated in a meeting on Sunday, 26th July that the decision to stop the Big Green Gathering had taken place some one or two weeks before, yet your officers were still asking our contractors if they had been paid, which they had on Friday 24th July. This ensured that the Big Green Gathering was still paying for infrastructure, when the decision had already been made to stop the Big Green Gathering.

6. We believe the actions of the Council in applying for an injunction on a Friday evening for early Monday morning in London were deliberately designed to ensure that the Big Green Gathering could not get the evidence in the time available. We believe that the Council is incorrect in saying it made every effort to ensure that the event could go ahead.

The above complaint and request for further information is made without prejudice to possible further complaint and action in pursuit of damages, whether through the courts or the Local Government Ombudsman, or (in regard to Avon & Somerset Constabulary) through the Independent Police Complaints Commission, or otherwise in any regard whatsoever

Yours faithfully,

Brig Oubridge,

Chair, the Big Green Gathering Co. Ltd.

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