Thursday, 07 July 2022

‘Viking’ party relocated due to noise and traffic fears

‘Viking’ party relocated due to noise and traffic fears

A THREE-DAY festival with a Vikings theme has been moved to a new location after neighbours objected to the idea.

The inaugural Valhalla event, which was due to take place at Roundhouse Farm in Fawley in July, will instead take place on a site near Basingstoke because it was unlikely to be allowed in the former location.

As the Henley Standard reported last week, it was to include a nightly “feast” in a temporary hall with up to 499 guests who would camp overnight and be given “free” top-ups of mead and ale over a three- or four-hour period.

There could also have been amplified music and live performances by a band playing traditional acoustic Norse music or rock and heavy metal with a similar theme.

Organiser Skull Vikings, of Reading, submitted a temporary event notification to Buckinghamshire Council and was expecting it to be quickly approved as happened last year, although the festival was ultimately cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

But this time the licencing authority’s officers said a hearing was required as they shared villagers’ concerns about noise and traffic crowding the narrow streets surrounding the site.

This was meant to happen on June 3 but the organisers said they couldn’t wait this long with the risk of being turned down as there wouldn’t be time to move somewhere else.

They said they had carried out tests proving there wouldn’t be noise disruption and they wouldn’t serve unlimited alcohol because they wanted to act responsibly. They said traffic wouldn’t be a problem as there would be 200 parking places on site and people would share lifts or take a taxi.

Steve Samuels, the firm’s co-founder, said it would have been a respectful gathering with many practising Heathens and Pagans, a modern religion based on pre-Christian European beliefs, and wouldn’t have run at a profit.

He said the community could have attended traditional craft and activity workshops like axe-throwing during the day and he could have explained this but nobody contacted him.

But Buckinghamshire councillor Mark Turner, who objected on behalf of several residents, said the firm should have asked neighbours before advertising the event online.

He said: “We were already having talks with the police to warn them that we were going to block the roads in a peaceful way.

“We’d have made sure that the festival never happened, come what may.

“They should have approached us — the first we knew about it was when tickets went on sale, which isn’t the right way to go about things.

“I’m sure we’d have said ‘absolutely not’ but that would have been the right thing.

“The website proudly advertises ‘free booze’ in capital letters — this was going to be a Pagan festival of drinking and debauchery. I mean, knock yourself out if you’re in the middle of nowhere but it’s not fair with pensioners around.

“There was no way the drinking wouldn’t have continued into the night.

“People wouldn’t have gone quietly to bed and what’s to say they wouldn’t have wandered around the village having a sing-song in the early hours?

“This isn’t Nimbyism as we haven’t objected to other events on that field as long as they aren’t disruptive.”

Landowner Kate Waddington said she had to let the land to make money as farming was not as profitable as it used to be.

She was unaware the festival had moved until she was contacted by the Henley Standard.

She said: “I’m not too bothered as I’ve got plenty of enquiries lined up and I’m sure I’ll still be fully booked.

“People don’t realise the countryside is a living, evolving environment and this was just going to be some fun and games with a bit of music so I’ve no idea why people were all hot under the collar.

“It sounded like a lot of fun to me — it’s not like it’s some kind of swinging club.

“These objections really get my goat when noisy festivals happen everywhere else. Everyone’s doing it because you’ve got to diversify.

“Other people told me they supported it but for some reason the complaints are always heard the loudest.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

* Read the organiser's comments about last week's story in our diary piece about reaction to the Viking event row.

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