Police object to Christchurch Christmas market plans over Covid enforcement

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christmas market christchurch
The market would be held in Saxon Square

A PLANNED Christmas market in Christchurch has been thrown into doubt after drawing opposition from police.

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Market Square Group has applied to BCP Council for licences for its Saxon Square event which is due to start when lockdown ends next month, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But an objection has been lodged by Dorset Police which said there were “insufficient measures” to enforce coronavirus restrictions on potentially big crowds.

The wider Christmas event in Christchurch has already been cancelled but Market Square Group is still hoping to run a market in Saxon Square.

Earlier this month it submitted applications for two temporary event notices for 3th-18th December, excluding Monday 7th December.

The organiser said alcohol would be restricted to two stalls offering traditional winter drinks and other alcohol to be taken away from the market.

If approved, the applications would allow the event to run between 9am and 6pm each day with a maximum number of 499 people attending at any one time.

However, police licensing sergeant Gareth Gosling submitted a formal objection to the applications last week.

He said there were fears about the number of people who might attend and the control organisers would have over the crowds.

“I am concerned this event will attract large numbers of people with insufficient measures in place to ensure Covid-19 legislation will be promoted and enforced,” his letter said.

“There is a significant concern the event will require police intervention in the event of large groups requiring dispersal and that public safety will be undermined.”

It also raises concerns the virus could be spread among attendees should restrictions not be enforced.

But he said the objection would be withdrawn if organisers were able to provide “reassurance” about the controls they have in place.

The applications were also considered at a multi-agency safety advisory group meeting held last Thursday.

At the meeting, Sarah Rogers, a senior licensing officer for the council, raised concerns about the effect of the market starting as the lockdown ends and that it could be more popular than expected with other nearby events cancelled.

Due to the objection, a council sub-committee will meet on Friday to consider the applications.

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