The Hippy, Hippy Shakedown: Big Green Gathering cancelled by police
The Big Green Gathering, a fixture in the alternative calendar, was due to return after two years this week. 15–20,000 people were expected to turn up on Wednesday (29th) to the site near Cheddar, Somerset, for Europe’s largest green event – a five-day festival promoting sustainability and renewable energy, with everything from allotments to alternative media. Hundreds of staff and volunteers are already on site, and its cancellation comes just days before gates were due to open. Organisers, most of whom work for nothing, are gutted. One told SchNEWS “We are so disappointed not to be having this year’s gathering – it means so much to so many people”.
A last-minute injunction by Mendip District Council, supported by Avon and Somerset Police, put the ki-bosh on the entire event – citing the potential for ‘crime and disorder’ and safety concerns. This was despite the fact that the festival had actually been granted a licence on the 30th of June. According to Avon and Somerset police’s website “[We] went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure this event took place.” This is of course utter bollocks.
The injunction was due to be heard in the High Court in London on Monday (27th). However, before that could happen the BGG organisers surrendered the festival licence on Sunday morning. As soon as this was done a police commander at the meeting was overheard saying into his radio “Operation Fortress is go”. Police have already set up roadblocks and promised to turn festival-goers back. Chief Inspector Paul Richards, festival liaison, later confirmed to one of the festival organisers that “This is political”, adding that the decision had been made over his head at county level. One of SchNEWS’ sources on site said that the police were frank about the fact that the closure had been planned for two weeks. “This was a blatant act of political sabotage – the Big Green Gathering is now completely bankrupt, they knew that we were going to be closed down and yet they carried on allowing us to spend money hand over fist on infrastructure”.