Christian arts festival locals fear noise and litter hell
Residents around the Greenbelt arts festival which will this year will be attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, fear rowdy Christian revellers will create "noise and litter hell" this summer, reports the Gloucestershire Echo.
This year's Greenbelt festival at Cheltenham racecourse is expected to see more visitors descend on the venue than in recent years.
This years festival, which will be attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been granted a public entertainments licence for 17,500 people. Last year more than 14,000 people from across the country turned up to hear music acts including Billy Bragg, The Polyphonic Spree and Aqualung.
The Christian arts event, which will take place over the August bank holiday weekend (from August 27 to 30) is taking the theme "Freedom Bound". Chosen to mix both the idea of personal, spiritual freedom with more political ideas, the festival says that it hopes both aspects will be covered - and more.
"The arts have always been central to people struggling towards freedom, release, rising up, and moving on. And the arts have a way of bringing the personal, the spiritual and the political together" says the Greenbelt web site.
But neighbours are reportedly worried that their own freedom will be impinged upon, and that last year's "unruly behaviour" will be repeated.
Complaints in 2003 focused on excessive noise, litter and traffic jams.
Cheltenham Borough Council has also received letters from residents who fear further noise problems at this year's festival.
In a letter to public protection chief George Rowlinson, resident Lesley Silvester said last year there were "young, apparently drunk people having fun after the concerts".
Another worried resident demanded reassurances there would be no repeat of last year's "intolerable disturbances".
She added: "The council tax paying citizens of Cheltenham should not have to put up with this sort of stress.
"We should be able to go about our business without being under siege."
Noisy revellers reportedly kept locals awake as they poured on to the streets after the concerts drew to a close at 2am.
But Cheltenham Borough Council's licensing committee has now given the festival the go-ahead.
Entertainment will be allowed to go on from 5pm to 2am on Friday and from 9am to 2am on the next three days, but there will be no live entertainment in the outside venues after 11pm.
Dr Rowan Williams, patron of the festival, is set to give a speech at this year's event.
The archbishop last visited the festival two years ago, shortly after he was confirmed as the new head of the Church of England, where he danced with festival goers.