'We are disappointed with the decision' - Royston Summer Soul in the Square's future in doubt after licence is revoked

PUBLISHED: 08:33 22 September 2016

Crowds flocked to Ad Hoc's Summer Soul in the Square in Royston.

Crowds flocked to Ad Hoc's Summer Soul in the Square in Royston.

Archant

A petition to save an annual charity event in Royston town centre has amassed close to 800 signatures after complaints triggered a review of the event's licence - which has now been revoked.

Summer Soul in the Square is a one-day music, drink and food festival held on a Saturday for the last four years in Fish Hill Square – but its future is now in doubt after the licence was revoked by North Herts District Council on Monday night.

The decision – which means the event, organised by Ad Hoc Bar and Kitchen in Fish Hill, cannot go ahead on a Saturday – was made following reports of anti-social behaviour and complaints about noise levels.

Prior to the decision, Ad Hoc started a petition asking people to show their support for Summer Soul in the Square and, within seven days, almost 800 people have signed it.

The festival proceeds go to a different charity each year – with Great Ormond Street Hospital benefiting for 2016 – but a number of complaints have been made to North Herts District Council, prompting the licence review.

Ad Hoc’s Bethan Harris said: “This year saw the fourth Summer Soul come to pass and unfortunately it could be the last.

“Each year we try as hard as possible to prevent any disruption to residents and businesses, stopping all music and sales at midnight.

“Staff stay till 4am cleaning and returning the square back to its former glory, as well as returning the following day to clean anything that may have been missed.

“Even after the efforts of all the staff and volunteers, we have received a number of complaints that have been taken to the council, which means we’ve lost our licence to host this amazing and family-inclusive event.

“Despite the few complaints, the benefits and enjoyment had by many others are very valuable and should not be taken away.

“This event is a great opportunity to show off the wonderful town we live in, and demonstrates the amazing community spirit we have in Royston.”

Sydney Firman has signed the petition and said: “I am the manager of Days Bakery, which looks upon Summer Soul each year.

“The road closures and people in the street have never affected our business in a negative way. In fact it has encouraged business.”

Royston resident Brenda Cottis added: “It is a fantastic event and must be saved.”

Councillor Bernard Lovewell is responsible for environmental health at the district council. He said: “A member of the public requested that the licence for the event ‘Summer Soul in the Square’ was reviewed by the licencing sub-committee this week.

“Local shop keepers and Herts police also presented evidence to the sub-committee of the crime and disorder that took place at this year’s event.

“The sub-committee suggested that the event could be held on another day which may eliminate the problems that arose because it was held on a Saturday. However, as the licence is specifically for a Saturday, the licence was revoked, and the applicant encouraged to work with the local people of Royston and the various agencies to submit a new application to hold the event on another day.”

Jason Todd, operations director at Ad Hoc, said: “At present we are disappointed with the council’s decision and we are considering whether to appeal.”

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