Police pursue organisers of ‘large gathering’ held at Alfriston farm

Police said they are pursuing the organisers of a ‘large gathering’ which was held on a farm in Alfriston earlier this month.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 12:07 pm
Police attended the event

The event at Pleasant Rise Farm was held on June 5 in contravention of covid-19 restrictions, which limit outdoor gatherings to 30 people and indoor gatherings to six people.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Police are investigating a large gathering at Pleasant Rise Farm in Alfriston and are in liaison with partners and the organisers.

“Police received reports of the gathering, prior to it taking place and at the time.”

Alasdair Henry, Wealden district commander, said: “A report was made to Sussex Police informing us of this event but was deferred for further action on the day, by which time the event was in full swing.

“We attended the site as soon as we were alerted to the gathering by local residents and engaged with those involved.

“While the group were cooperative in removing vehicles from the lane they were insistent that they would continue with their conference.

“The decision was made having considered a number of factors to monitor the event and gather evidence to assist in a prosecution at a later stage.

“We are now working with partners from the local environmental health department and trading standards to pursue the organisers of this event.”

Nearby residents have criticised police for the way they handled the incident.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said that they warned police on May 30 that a large event was being planned at the farm – but that no action was taken.

The event then proceeded to take place on June 5.

The resident said they could see lots of people at the farm.

“I rang the police and I said what is going on? I told you last week this was going to happen,” they said.

“Other neighbours also rang up with complaints. The entire village was absolutely furious.”

Neighbours felt ‘very disconcerted and very threatened’ by the event, according to the resident.

“I would not exaggerate when I say I felt very threatened, and I wasn’t the only one,” they said. “Everyone was just scared.

“It’s awful, absolutely awful.”

The resident believes the police should have done more to prevent the event taking place.

“On the 5th June, let’s face it, the Indian variant was already rampant.

“There were already noises that the 21st June wasn’t going to happen.

“God only knows where all these people came from.

“Now here we are, the 21st June is not happening.

“And it’s because of these kinds of gatherings.

“If you can’t trust the police to do what’s right, then they are complicit.”

The owner of Pleasant Rise Farm was approached for a comment but had not responded by the time this newspaper went to press.