Pubs across Northamptonshire villages close their doors this weekend over concerns around large Light and Life Christian Travellers' festival nearby

The Wheel and Compass at Weston-by-Welland is shutting for the weekendThe Wheel and Compass at Weston-by-Welland is shutting for the weekend
The Wheel and Compass at Weston-by-Welland is shutting for the weekend
The Light and Life festival is running for the next six days

Village pubs in North Northants have decided to shut their doors this weekend over worries about a festival that caused a mini crime wave last time it was held nearby.

When the Light and Life Gypsy Church held its five-day festival at Rutland Showground in Oakham in 2021, police received 100 reports of drag racing on the Oakham bypass as well as looting, stealing and fighting in the nearby market town.

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Attended by 2,000 people, mostly from the Romani community, the event itself passed-off peacefully and organisers later said that the trouble was from other travellers attracted to the area by the festival.

This year’s event is being held at Market Harborough Showground from tomorrow (Saturday, July 22) until Thursday. Several pubs in neighbouring Northamptonshire villages have chosen to shut their doors as a precaution.

The Wheel and Compass at Weston-by-Welland posted on their Facebook page: “At the advice of local police we will be closing all day on Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd due to an event in Market Harborough. This decision hasn't been made without a lot of consideration for our customers and staff and we are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

The White Horse at Stoke Albany said on their social media page: “After careful consideration and discussion with other businesses and the police we've decided we will be closed this coming Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd July 2023.

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“This is the first time in 23 years we have had to make this decision.

“We offer our apologies to all our customers for the inconvenience and cancellations.”

The Fox Inn at Wilbarston posted a similar message, as did the Old Red Lion at Welham and The George at Ashley.

A media statement from Harborough District Council said: “The showground in Market Harborough has confirmed that an annual Christian convention/caravan rally comprising of members of the church congregation from Life and Light (sic) mission churches from around the UK, will be taking place from 22 July 2023.

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“In the run up to the event, the organisers have been working with the showground itself and local agencies – including the council, Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue and the highways department at Leicestershire County Council – to ensure that the event runs as safely and smoothly as possible.

“The showground is a private venue with private management. No licenses have been applied for or granted by Harborough District Council as there are no licensable activities at the event.

“All enquiries about this event must be referred to the showground.”

Leicestershire Police told local media outlets they had not told any local businesses they should close.

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About 600 traveller family groups are said to be attending the festival. All those involved in the festival will stay in caravans on-site. The festival will include prayer, gospel and song, and Bible study groups.

But John Boyd, one of the trustees of the Light and Life Mission, told LeicestershireLive: “We have our own traffic calming schemes, we have our own bin men, our own security. We have everything on site, as you would with any large event. We’re just another event trying to do something for our community."