Sunday, 15 December 2019

Regatta to ‘engage with community’ on addition of sixth day

Regatta to ‘engage with community’ on addition of sixth day

HENLEY Royal Regatta has been allowed to add a sixth day.

Wokingham Borough Council has approved a licensing application for permission for alcohol sales between 10am and 8pm on the new first day of the event and for live music between 11am and 7.30pm.

The regatta says the additional day will allow it to include more races for female rowers and crews and to leave longer gaps between races in order to reduce congestion in the programme.

The extension is unlikely to happen before 2021 but from next year there will be a new event for university student women’s eights.

The decision to extend the event will be a disappointment to residents of neighbouring Remenham who have complained about the number of growing events taking place, including the regatta, the Henley Festival and Rewind, which cause traffic disruption.

The council’s licensing and appeals sub-committee said it had concentrated on the effect of the licensable activities when making its decision.

It said: “It should be remembered that the activity of simply holding a rowing regatta is not a licensable activity — it could still occur without and does not need any authorisation from the sub-committee. It was noted, and important to the decision, that none of the responsible authorities had made representations nor suggested any changes to the conditions proposed.

“This is not an application for a completely new event, more the extension of an existing one and on the evidence it is clear that all the responsible authorities are content that the operation of the existing event is being conducted to promote the licensing objectives and those authorities also are of the same view with this application.

“When the evidence was reviewed with regard to the playing of music, it could not find any evidence of this being a problem.

“With regard to the issues arising from the sale of alcohol, again there was no specific evidence of issues arising from the sale of alcohol, such as drunkenness or underage drinking.”

The sub-committee said it also considered the effect of another day of large numbers of people attending the event but concluded that “taking into account the experience of the existing event, this would also be conducted by the applicants in a way that promotes the licensing objectives.”

It dismissed the residents’ argument about the cumulative impact of the additional day together with other events in the area.

It said: “The sub-committee recognised and was sympathetic to the residents’ objections, but noted that it was for the objectors to prove negative cumulative impact on one or more of the licensing objectives.

“The objectors made several bold assertions that this applied but there was little in terms of specifics to support that that was cumulative impact of a nature that would not promote the objectives.

“There was also no detail as to the nature of the ‘impact’ complained of and particularly there was little or no specific evidence that the supply of alcohol or the playing of live music on the Tuesday would fail to promote the licensing objectives.”

John Merkel, chairman of Remenham Parish Council, said an appeal against the sub-committee’s decision was being considered.

He said: “There are too many licensed events in Remenham and it’s unfair that residents’ concerns have not been addressed. Very often the fact that the regatta is held predominantly in Remenham is overlooked.

“Life will certainly be more complicated. It makes it more difficult for members of our community to get back and forth to work during regatta. Now there will be another day of heavy traffic.”

He added: “If there’s an outcome from this that’s favourable it should be further communication between Henley Royal Regatta and the community.

John Halsall, vice-chairman of the parish council, said: “This is disappointing, but not unexpected. It is disappointing that the royal regatta considers the residents so unimportant, but it’s not new.

“During Henley Royal Regatta there’s about 25 to 30 licensees so if the regatta is running races the licensees down the course will ask for events.

“It will increase traffic, noise and disruption so the residents of Remenham will have to put their lives on hold. It certainly will have a cumulative impact.”

In a statement, the regatta said it had listened closely to the comments of residents and wanted to build on this by “widening its engagement with the local community”.

Regatta chairman Sir Steve Redgrave said: “After a very successful 2019 regatta, I’m really excited about the prospects for the years ahead — a new event for university student women at the 2020 regatta, which I hope will prove to be popular, and then working toward the introduction of more women’s events.”

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