Claim Made that Acton Green Beer Festival Could Be Unlawful

Open Spaces Society says such an event not allowed on common land


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The Open Spaces Society has objected to the application from Carsten Raun to hold a German beer-festival on Acton Green Common for five days this August.

The Society is arguing that the Oktoberfest is unlawful under the Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Order 1967 which outlaws certain activities on common land.

Poster advertising German beer festival

An example of the poster used to advertise the Oktoberfest

The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.

Says Kate Ashbrook, the society’s general secretary, ‘We have told Ealing Council that we consider the Oktoberfest would be unlawful. Even if the council were not to accept that, the event still requires the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs because it involves temporary structures on common land.

‘We are deeply concerned that it is proposed to hold this commercial venture on common land. It will destroy the peace and tranquility for residents and those who wish to visit the common for quiet enjoyment.’

Ealing Council dispute the argument made by the Open Spaces Society saying that events of this size and nature are allowed to erect temporary structures on common land and do not require the Secretary of State’s permission.

Ealing Council has already given the go-ahead to the organisers despite local opposition from Bedford Park residents and a local Church. They are believed to have been paid £22,000 for allowing Acton Green to be used plus extra charges to cover cleaning up after the event.

Those opposed believe it could lead to anti-social behaviour and they say such an event is not suitable for a Conservation Area. Ealing Council says that the application met all its requirements and it had consulted with residents and other interested parties. The event would be the only one on Acton Green this year.

German entrepreneur Carsten Raun applied to Ealing Council for a 'Oktoberfest' style summer event on the Green with German 'oompah' music and a shop where lederhosen can be hired out. The promoter has held similar Munich-style festivals, "with a British flavour" in Canary Wharf and Brixton and UK cities including Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool.

Beer Festival Tent with crowds inside

An example of a beer festival in a giant marquee

The Bedford Park Residents' Association, Acton Green Residents' Association and the Bedford Park Society, along with St Michael & All Angels, have questioned why the promoter has chosen Acton Green over other parks. The scale of the event, restricted access to the park, live music, the behaviour of those attending, and the impact on local churches during Sunday are also matters of concern.

The festival is planned to be held from Wednesday to Sunday, either in August or September. (Despite the title given to the festival, Oktoberfest, the beer festival is usually held in September).

It would open at 4 pm each day, except for Saturday (12.30) and 'oompah' music would be played until 10.30. The event is to be ticketed with a strict number of attendees agreed with the Council (potentially 5000-6000 over the 5 days). There will be a main marquee seating 1500 people within a fenced off area of Acton Green.

map of Acton Green showing where beer festival will be located

Map courtesy of the BPRA

An Oktoberfest London festival at Tobacco Dock in London was cancelled twenty minutes before it was scheduled to start last October, for 'operational reasons' according to the organisers. It was reported that excessive crowds had turned up for the ticketed event. This was a separate event to the Oktoberfest London (Mr. Raun's event) which went ahead in Millwall Park.

March 18, 2016

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