Pub near Billericay in hot water after garden party gets out of hand

A pub faces having its licence severely restricted after more than 600 people allegedly breached Covid-19 restrictions by attending a party.

Essex Police have submitted an application to review the licence to sell alcohol of the Beauvoir Arms in Downham, near Billericay, following the event on August 2, in which officers said they witnessed staff organisers and revellers in possession of cannabis.

The pub, which said that the event on August 2 was designed as a soiree-style garden party for no more than 200 people, has apologised for the event it admits did “get out of hand”.

However, Essex Police said that the event had been planned for 600 in an unlicensed area.

Moreover police said the event resulted in obstructions to residents’ driveways, anti-social behaviour from attendees and breaches of Covid-19 regulations. No prior application was received to allow the event to go ahead.

To make matters worse, despite promises made to police officers by the organisers of the event to not allow any more people into the party and to shut down at 8pm, it was still going with people still arriving at 10.30pm, according to police.

Essex Police said the event organiser was “very obstructive and gave officers false details”.

Organisers, staff and attendees were also witnessed to be in possession of cannabis and people were seen jumping a picket fence to get into the marquee.

Essex Police have said the crime and disorder objective of the pub’s licence has been undermined.

They add that Chelmsford City Council, as the licensing authority, may wish to consider restricting any outdoor activity with no use of a marquee for future events, and to only allow alcohol for consumption on the premises.

A statement on social media from the pub on August 4 said: “Please accept our sincere apologies again for the events at Beauvoir Arms on Sunday.

“The event was planned as a soiree-style evening, and thought it would be a garden party. Socially distanced tables, people staying within their groups, basically a classy event utilising our large outside areas too, to aid safe social distancing.

“We said no more than 200 people as the marquee was big enough for about 500, plus, there is lots of space in the garden and we set it out to keep things socially distanced. Sadly many more guests arrived than we agreed.

“We organised the correct facilities for the number we were expecting and made provisions for 50 to 60 cars in the car park. It was never our intention to have so many parking on the road.”

The statement said portable toilets were placed outside, meaning staff could sanitise and clean up, while still being able to open the restaurant safely the next day.

“Finally we wanted to say that unfortunately this event did get out of hand, but we worked with the police and council to get everyone out safely, which was our main concern. With a large group it is important to disperse people in a safe way,” added the statement.

“We would like to apologise again for any upset caused and understand resident concerns. We are going to make a donation to a local NHS charity as a good will gesture and hope that our local friends and loyal customers will understand the predicament we were in.

“In 15 years of building up our business and making friends with you all we are deeply upset that you were affected.

“Please accept our full apology.”

A statement from Essex Police as part of the licensing application said they received numerous calls from concerned residents regarding the party.

“Police officers attended the premises where a large marquee was set up in the grounds,” added the statement.

“The marquee was set up for an organised event with 600 persons expected to be attending. This event was carried out in an unlicensed area, and no prior application was received to allow this event to go ahead.

“The above activities resulted in obstructions to residents’ driveways, anti-social behaviour from attendees and breaches of Covid regulations.

“Due to complaints regarding noise nuisance the council out of hours attended who stated that the music was excessively loud.

“Promises were made to police officers by the organisers of the event to not allow any more persons into the party and to shut down at 8pm. The event continued up until 10.30pm with attendees still arriving. The event organiser was very obstructive and gave officers false details.

“Organisers, staff and attendees were witnessed to be in possession of cannabis and people were seen jumping a picket fence to gain entry into the marquee. This shows the lack of control that the organisers had and a complete disregard for the law.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter