Police raise dual identity of organiser and question his good character but council says YES to Fenland Festival

A MUSIC event in Fenland – described as a rave by police but as a festival by the organiser - finally got approval today but with tough conditions.

Councillor Michael Humphrey, chairman of the three strong licensing committee panel at Fenland District Council, announced the decision following a two and a half hour adjournment.

It means Matthew Broadfield can go ahead with the first Fenland Festival at Grounds Auction Field, Knights End Road, March, on August 27.

All that remains for him now is to sell the tickets – he’s been told no more than 3,500- and to ensure the conditions, including massively increasing public liability insurance from �1 million to �10 million, have been covered.

Among the concessions agreed today was closure of the bar two hours prior to the scheduled 8pm finish time and to insist festival goers leave the site no later than midnight.

Inspector Rob Hill, sector commander for March, had raised objections at today’s resumed licensing panel hearing, but insisted he was “not in the business of trying to stop events-we want them to go ahead.”

He said his concerns over the Fenland Festival were that with only weeks to go he still awaited “full clarity to ensure the festival runs smoothly for the people of March.”

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Insp Hill pressed event organiser Matthew Broadfield about his dual identity (he was formerly known as Matthew Ward) and said it was “relevant to ask the question” given the nature of the event.

He said had Mr Broadfield been applying for a personal licence in respect of running a bar then he would have been quizzed about any previous names and convictions.

Mr Broadfield insisted his mother’s name was Ward but when she died two years ago he took his father’s name.

Insp Hill said under the Crime and Disorder Act it was up to the police to challenge the “good character” of those applying for a licence and to have confidence in those applicants.

Pressed further by Insp Hill if there were any other matters in the last five years he would like to discuss with the committee- including a 2009 appearance before Norwich magistrates- Mr Broadfield said he “couldn’t recall” the incident. Cllr Humphrey said the manner of the response could be considered by the panel in determining the licence.

The hearing had been adjourned from a fortnight ago while the committee decided if Mr Broadfield and a new events team he has brought in to help with the festival have done enough to ensure public safety on the day.

Insp Hill said that had the events team been brought in six months ago when the event was first considered it would have been unlikely that there would be any objections to policing for the event.

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