Safety remains top priority as council and police prepare for 2017 Cheltenham Festival

Published on 3rd February 2017

Ubico clearing up Cheltenham High Street after a race day

The council, police and other partners are working hard to get ready for the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, with lots of new measures in place for increased safety during the busy week.

As the Festival continues to grow, numbers of spectators now exceed 260,000 over the week.  This huge influx of people to the town places significant strain on the council, police and other partners that work tirelessly to ensure the impact on residents is as minimal as practically possible and that the event is a safe one.

The council in partnership with the police and racecourse have implemented a number of new initiatives and statutory requirements in preparation for The 2017 Festival in March.

For the first time, anybody who will be distributing free promotional material – including flyers, newspapers, stickers, scarfs, hats -  during the course of The Festival week must apply for a permit to do so. 

Also for the first time, the council in partnership with the police will be cracking down on ticket touts offering for sale race tickets on public land.  The behaviour to the touts has over the years become increasingly aggressive particularly towards the end of the week when they are under pressure to sell their tickets.  The council and racecourse have also received complaints about counterfeit tickets.

During this year’s Festival, council officers will check authorisations for street trading, report those who unlawfully trade and seize any tickets being offered for sale to preserve as evidence should the council decide to prosecute or take any other formal action.

The council has updated its powers that deal with public consumption of alcohol and council officers will be empowered to issue on the spot fines to anybody who refuses to cease consuming alcohol in a designated area and/or refused to surrender a container with alcohol.  Previously only the police were empowered to take action.

Officers from the council and police are working with licensed operators and door staff to ensure they understand their obligations with regards to drunk people in licensed venues.  This will be followed up by visits to licensed venues throughout the week.

Taxi activity will also be monitored carefully to ensure that the safety of the public is protected and taxi drivers are not unlawfully plying for trade.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: “The Cheltenham Festival is a very important week for Cheltenham but equally places a great strain on local police and council resources.

“The event has been consistently growing over the years which has prompted the police, council, racecourse and other partners to rethink some aspects of our work to keep the event safe, well managed and to minimise the disruption to the local residents.

“We have introduced a number new initiatives this year in partnership with the police and the racecourse to assist us in managing the event.”

Inspector Roddy Gosden from Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “As in previous years police and council licensing officers will be visiting bars and clubs during the week to ensure venues are abiding by the rules. This time we’re going to have more of an emphasis on ensuring those who are drunk are not continually served and end up in either a vulnerable state or causing disorder. Our communications team is also working with the racecourse and council to ensure posters and other marketing material inside and outside the ground encourage people to be sensible with the amount they drink in order to reduce the chances of anti-social behaviour.

“In the town itself we’ll be running increased patrols, particularly during the night time economy, to help keep people safe and for the first time we will have a base at the former tourist information centre in the Promenade. Members of the public can come and see us there if they have any problems or concerns.”

Ian Renton, regional director of Cheltenham Racecourse said: “We are very pleased to have a strong relationship with the police and council, which has enabled us to work together on the areas around touts, excessive drinking, illegal taxi activity and commercial flyering. We recognise the importance of all parties working together to minimise the disruption to local residents during The Festival, whilst at the same time providing a safe and enjoyable week for our 260,000 customers.”


For media enquiries, contact: Laura Carter, communications officer, telephone 01242 246154, email communications@cheltenham.gov.uk

Notes

To apply for a permit to distribute free printed promotional material visit the council’s website: https://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/freeprintedmatter

A recent report undertaken by the University of Gloucestershire analysed that over the week of The Festival over £100m in brought in the Cheltenham and wider Gloucestershire economy, providing income for many different businesses within the county.