Police called to Whittlesey for reports of disturbance and fighting following Straw Bear Festival

Straw Bear parade 2013. Whittlesey. Picture: Steve Williams

Straw Bear parade 2013. Whittlesey. Picture: Steve Williams - Credit: Archant

POLICE had to disperse troublemakers in Whittlesey on Saturday night after receiving reports of fighting and overcrowded venues following the Straw Bear Festival.

Thousands lined the streets for the historic festival as more than 400 dancers and musicians followed the straw bears in their parade through the town.

But, as celebrations continued into the evening, police were twice called to the Ivy Leaf Club, in Gracious Street.

At about 7.45pm, officers were called to reports of “rowdy nuisance” as about 100 people tried to get into the club, which was already at capacity.

They were called to the Ivy Leaf Club again at about 9.20pm after receiving reports of fighting.

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A police spokesman said: “We were called to Whittlesey again at about 11pm and we dispersed a few people using Section 27 orders.

“There were a lot of people in the town and we did have to ask some to leave to prevent any more trouble.”

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Organisers hailed the Straw Bear as a resounding success, with visitors coming from all over the world to take part in one of Britain’s oldest folk festivals.

A spokesman for Fenland District Council said: “Our licensing officers were there throughout the day, working with the police and the festival organisers to ensure that everything went smoothly, which it did.

“During the evening the mood clearly changed, leading to various incidents around the town.

“Together with the police, we are now investigating exactly what happened, what the problems were and what action we may need to take in the future.”

The festival originates from a 19th century custom, which would see a farmer dressed in straw and taken around the town on the Tuesday following Plough Monday.

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