Invasion of ravers and travellers alarms west country landowners...

Festival-goers heading for Cornwall this summer could face a Criminal Justice Act clampdown enforced by the army because local authorities fear August’s solar eclipse celebrations will develop into scores of illicit raves.

Police say they’re expecting up to four million people to descend on the county to celebrate the event and are now formulating a strategy with the military to cope with the crowds.

Plans for a legal ten-day, 16,000-capacity Eclipse Festival at Carlyon Bay near St Austell, which is being held from August 6-15, are now being finalised, with major dance acts – including Prodigy – expected to be announced soon. Last year, Megadog organised a 10,000-capacity festival on the same site from August 14-16.

But fallout from the festival, which could include impromptu unofficial raves organised by revellers, is worrying the authorities and landowners.

Sergeant Richard Price of Devon & Cornwall Police said his force, along with the help of the military, would consider enforcing the controversial Criminal Justice Act to clear any unlicensed ‘raves’, a term used by the act to cover any outdoor party where ‘repetitive beats’ can be heard.

The act was partly created to deal with the illegal rave boom of the late-’80s/early-’90s and gives police the power to shut down such unlicensed outdoor events and arrest people involved in them.

Sgt Price said: “The powers do exist for us to use if we wish to. We will recognise the powers are there and any illegal gatherings will be dealt with in a manner which will be appropriate at the time.”

But according to a local newspaper reporter, who did not wish to be named, the situation was becoming increasingly worrying.

He said: “Everyone’s shitting themselves. There is a load of opposition from the residents. Carlyon Bay is quite an upmarket, toffee-nosed area, the residents are pretty pissed off, especially as this one is over ten days.

“Last year a lot of problems were caused by a load of travellers who came down and held an unofficial event two or three miles away from the site. They caused a lot of disruption.

“If you’re talking about ten days, then they’re going to be coming in a couple of days before that and God knows how long it’s going to take for them to clear off.”

Local landowner Tony Geake is warning that festival-goers who don’t book into official festival campsites face a battle with Cornish farmers.

He said: “There was so much trouble last year, the police informed us that with anything on private property you’ve got to take civil action. All we can do is put as many obstacles in the gateway as we can, such as concrete blocks or trailers to stop people coming in.”

But Eclipse promoter James Sherlock of Manchester-based Night Time Concerts, claims his festival will help authorities cope with crowds.

He said: “They seem to think that if they don’t grant us a licence it will stop 16,000 people going down to the beach, but it’s not going to do that. In reality, it could do with ten people putting concerts on.

“If you think that ten per cent of the people that are going to come down are young people looking to go to concerts and parties, then what’s being provided is nowhere near enough.”

The local Restormel Borough Council is holding a meeting on March 4 to discuss Night Time Concerts’ licence application.

A number of DJs have already been confirmed for Eclipse, including Judge Jules and Paul Oakenfold. Fat Les will also make their debut live appearance.

Meanwhile, Glastonbury Festival promoter Michael Eavis has denied further problems would be caused by travellers and festival-goers staying on at his Shepton Mallet site after June 27 and then slowly making their way down to Cornwall.

He said: “The whole travellers scene is gone. At its height in 1990 we had 400 travellers’ vehicles staying on at our site, last year we had just 12 and when we asked them to leave, they left. We won’t be letting anyone stay on our site after the festival is over.”

Do you fancy going tio a party and being evicted at the point of an army rifle? Or should they be issued with live ammo and ordered to shoot crusties on sight? Tell us what you think. Post a message on Angst!

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