I thought you would be interested in this; written by a party organiser about their busted event on Friday :

Words cannot express how we feel, it’s hard to know where to begin. The time, effort and money of so many people wasted. Everyone involved put their heart and soul into our summer gathering. What happened has left us all in shock and absolutely gutted.

But don’t worry we will bounce back! The Frogz will keep on hopping!

Our private members only party was stopped in a way which we believe to be illegal. At 12:04pm on Friday 13th June, Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was signed by Assistant Chief Constable Steve Mortimore. We were then served with it at about 2:00pm.

Friday 13th lived up to its name, what an awful morning. After more than 2 weeks of gathering and moving decoration, lighting, geodomes, marquees, carpets, firewood and a mountain of other equipment. Followed by a week of constructing and building, we had made such a beautiful outdoor environment that was ready to go!

We thought we had thought of everything in putting on our summer gathering, our annual private members party (which was also celebrating 3 birthdays of members of our tribe) and that we were completely legal. We had full permission from the farmer who owned the land, who trusted us and understood what we were trying to do. We had visited all the local people, spoken to them personally about the gathering and gave them personal invites so that they could come along and a telephone number to call if there were any problems.

A lot of time was spent researching information used in the planning of our private party. Everything from the amount of toilets recommended by health and safety, fire points, medical staff and stewarding thru to the licensing and legal implications of the party.

Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, the Licensing Section undertakes the licensing of Entertainment at premises within the borough of South Somerset.

An Entertainment Licence is required for Public Music, Public Dancing and Indoor Sports.

There are certain exemptions for not having a licence, these are as follows:-

 If the premises holds a liquor licence issued by the Magistrates Court under the Licensing Act 1968, the licensee is entitled to have two performers on at any time with that period of opening. This could be a D.J playing music or a duo.

 If the function is a private party, then an entertainment licence is not required

 Any music (1) in a place of public religious worship or (2) performed as an incident of a religious meeting or service

 Entertainment held in a pleasure fair

 An entertainment which takes place wholly or mainly in the open air.

As you can see we were exempted from having a public entertainment license by the fact that we were putting on a private party by personal invitation only, with 24 hour security there to keep it that way.

The police said that they had grounds to serve Section 63 because we “could not guarantee that a member of the public (i.e. an non-tribe member) could not gain entry to the private party” It is absolutely impossible to guarantee that something won’t happen. So by their thinking it is impossible to have a private party.

We will be contacting the council to confirm that we did not need a party entertainment license as soon as they open on Monday morning.

When we were served the Section 63 (see below) we were ordered to leave the land and the surrounding area by 6pm, giving us 4 hours to dismantle something that had taken many people over a week to put together. we are talking about 8 geodesic domes, 3 circus round tents, 4 marquees, a pond, 100 hay bails, solar showers, sauna, 20ft x 16ft x 18ft scaffolding stage, pyramid, solar cinema, market stalls, food stalls, stone carving workshop, children’s area, over half a mile of water piping, 250 litre water bowsers, fire extinguishers, lasers, lights, safety fencing, flushing toilet blocks, firewood etc. etc.) If we didn’t remove our vehicles, equipment and property we could be arrested. At this point a yawning gapping chasm opened up in our stomachs. Absolutely gutted. Exhausted from all the work putting it all together and getting only 2-3 hours sleep each night, we tried to piece ourselves back together, still reeling in the shock we began the sickening process of packing up something that we had only just finished putting together.

At about 5pm we had taken down quite a bit of our stuff, but the police were back and this time they were stating that they were now searching for any sound equipment and generators and would be confiscating them!! Because they had read on the message board of our website that we were encouraging people to meet in preparation to move to an alternative site. We immediately stated that this was not true and took steps to stop things going any further by closing down the message board and replacing it with a message saying that “there will be absolutely no summer gathering taking place”. The police had already taken the license plate numbers of all the vehicles on the site, but now they were searching the vehicles too.

The sound equipment and generators were seized and loaded into some of the 6 police riot vans that were on the scene. (There were more police there than there were of us!)

The police were informed that we had no intentions of moving else where and that our message board was open to free speech and did not necessarily reflect the tribes opinions or intentions as a whole. We also informed them that we felt that they were breaching the original agreement if we cleared the site and move away we would be left alone.

We really really wanted to have our gathering, we even offered the compromise of allowing the police to impound all sound and power equipment for the duration of our gathering so that our tribe, our family could be allowed to camp together in a field that we had permission to be in. They would not even consider this offer and repeated that we had to leave the site and surrounding area and not return within 7 days.

If you paid for full membership with tribe of frog and feel that our private summer gathering should have been allowed and would like to let the authorities know then you can contact the man that signed the Section 63 order that stopped it from happening, at this address below;

Steve Mortimore

Assistant Chief Constable

Avon and Somerset Constabulary

PO Box 37

Portishead

Bristol

BS20 8QJ

We have a lot of work to do to sort out the mess that this has left behind. The hiring of all the scaffolding, sound systems, generators, water bowsers, toilets, fencing, etc. etc. is an unavoidable cost that has to be paid for out of our collective membership fees. We will refund money to any one which wishes to cancel their membership. If you would like to get a refund of your membership fee then send an email to; refunds@tribeoffrog.com and we will contact you with details of what to do. For those of you that wish to remain a full paid up member, your personal invitation will remain valid for our next party/gathering.

We can’t express enough to everyone how sorry we are that this happened, we are sorry for all the wasted time, the wasted days people took off work to get there and the wasted journeys too. It’s awful 😦

We are seeking legal advice. It would be great if there was someone in tribe out there that could help. Are you or friend or member of your family a solicitor that is willing to help?, if so please get in touch with us.

*** PHOTOS & FILM FOOTAGE REQUEST ***

The police did a lot of filming while they were there, we are going to ask for copies of all the tapes made. We would also like to collect together any video and photos you have. if you took pictures and recorded the event in anyway please get in touch.

It is still legal to hold private parties and private gatherings in this countries, at least for now, but we should all be aware of a new bill that the government is trying to make law, you can read it here

Under the current wording of this proposed bill there could be a £20,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison for some of the following breaches of the new law if it is passed:

 Any private wedding, corporate reception or party that employs a musician to perform would need a licence – failure to obtain one could put the organisers in the dock.

 Do you run a recording or a broadcast studio? Better get a licence, or the police will be banging on the door.

 Are you going bell ringing or carol singing? Think twice about it if you don’t have a licence.

And if you want proof that the authorities will use this sort of power once they have it at their disposal then you just have to read this excerpt from a letter sent to the landlord of a London Pub, fined thousands of pounds for breaching the current rules that ban dancing in pubs that don’t have a “dancing licence”.

“Dancing could be described as the rhythmic moving of the legs, arms and body usually changing positions within the floor space available and whether or not accompanied by musical support.”

Using this definition of criminal behaviour the authorities observed customers swaying around in the pub in question on several separate occasions, and a hefty fine soon came through the letter box.

Seems a little mad to us!

We must not let these laws to infringe on our rights to gather peacefully at safe children-friendly family orientated private social events.

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