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28-02-2009 MAG takes events cancellation issue to Parliament

In the wake of last year’s cancellations of major motorcycle events MAG has taking the issue to The House of Commons. 

Biking MP and MAGmember Lembit Opik has tabled a Parliamentary Question on the subject.

Public Order
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance she issues to police forces on the grounds on which they may seek cancellation of public events where a threat to public safety is thought to exist; whether such guidance includes provisions on the furnishing to events organisers of the evidence underlying the assessment of any threat to public safety; and if she will make a statement. [256224]

Mr. Coaker: The Home Office does not issue guidance to police forces on this matter. However, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) inform us that under the Licensing Act 2003, the police may make objections to the granting of a premise’s license on the grounds of four licensing objectives. These include public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder. The police may also make objections to the granting of a temporary event notice solely on the grounds of the prevention of crime and disorder.

DCMS has issued guidance to licensing authorities under section 182 of the Act on relevant representations, and also guidance to police officers on the use of closure powers in the Act to deal with disorder or noise nuisance problems on premises. There are no provisions in the guidance for furnishing event organisers of the evidence underlying the assessment of any threat to public safety.

MAG President Ian Mutch said:
‘We avoided a knee jerk reaction to the cancellations last year as we learned that the issue was less simple than many thought. Nonetheless, having looked into this deeper we remain concerned that the police may be exercising their powers too enthusiastically.

We didn’t expect to get satisfaction from an answer to Lembit’s question, it is just one tactic in what we hope to turn into a major public debate about risk management and risk acceptance in our society, and that has fundamental implications for motorcycling itself. We’ve laid a marker and we want bikers to contact their MPs and express disquiet about the enthusiasm for closing events on the strength of evidence that is kept secret. Besides the disappointment of the public there is the issue of innocent organisers of events facing ruinous losses.’

NB: MAG was itself a victim of 11th hour event cancellation in 1998 when the group’s flagship Magna Carta Rally was cancelled following police insistence the day before the rally was due to open. The rally did not survive the catastrophe and the group has missed out on hundreds of thousands of pounds of income over the years since then. 

MAG reminds all riders that most MPs can be contacted by email via the website: www.upmystreet.com/commons/

For further information contact: Ian Mutch (020 8556 6495 / 07799 764 161 theroad@mag-uk.org)

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