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Locals near to a showground in Leicestershire claim they are too scared to leave their homes after 1,500 people descended on the area.
Residents in Oakham have said the town is in a ‘state of panic’ following reports of drag racing and physical and verbal abuse of staff after travellers came to attend a mass event in Rutland Showground in Leicestershire.
Around 1,500 travellers and hundreds of caravans descended on Rutland Showground for a Christian event, called the festival of Light and Life.
Residents claim some attendees have been attempting to steal from nearby shops or break into premises, while there have allegedly been reports of fighting in the area, according to The Sun.
One resident told the publication: ‘We’re scared to leave our houses. They have blocked one of the bypasses with their trucks and some local staff in shops have been physically and verbally abused.
Residents in Oakham said the town is in a ‘state of panic’ following reports of drag racing after travellers came to attend a mass event in Rutland Showground (pictured) in Leicestershire
Oakham residents have claimed that anti-social behaviour linked to the religious festival has caused deep distress, while one resident described cars racing along the Rutland bypass as like ‘something out of Mad Max’.
Ruthland Showground issued an apology on its Facebook page after a ‘minority of people’ disrupted the religious event and caused ‘significant problems’.
Elsewhere, other people took to social media to question whether the mass outdoor gather should have been allowed amid a national spike in Covid-19 infections and a four-week delay to remaining lockdown measures lifting.
One asked the Rutland Showground: ‘How have you allowed a huge event to take place which threatens a community which has obeyed the rules and kept covid levels low? This beggars belief. Time to shut the event down.’
Another tweeted: ‘It’s all kicking off in #oakham, the local showground has taken a booking of 30 for a religious gathering and 3000 ‘travellers’ have descended. Drag racing, looting and anti social behaviour.’
A third fumed: ‘Disgusted to see a mass gathering on the Rutland Showground this morning- 700 caravans (and rising) on site for a ‘religious event’… I can’t see my son compete in his sports day because of covid rules but this is allowed… shocking.’
A statement from Ruthland Showground read: ‘We are currently hosting a religious festival on our site which we are aware is causing disturbance to our neighbours. We wholeheartedly apologise for this.
‘We agreed to the booking after assessing the organisers risk assessment and with the belief that this was an event primarily about Christian worship.
Around 1,500 travellers and hundreds of caravans (pictured) descended on Rutland Showground for a Christian event, called the festival of Light and Life
‘However there is a minority of people who are disrupting the event and causing significant problems in around the showground.
‘Our priority is to help maintain public order and minimise disruption and allow the event to refocus on its Christian worship as quickly and quietly as possible. We have been in contact with the police who have been onsite today.’
Leicestershire Police said officers would be regularly going into the event to speak with the event co-ordinator and ensure the private gathering remained Covid safe.
While Rutland Agricultural Society CEO Kevin Tighe said the outdoor event was self-contained and using no onsite facilities across the 45-acre fields and was being managed by 90 pastors and supported by 40 stewards.
Mr Tighe said a risk assessment had been done prior to the event, which covered issues including Covid risks, and said this was being implemented ‘to the best of his knowledge’.
He said the event attracted 1,500 attendees in caravans and motor homes, but insisted it was a ‘minority’ of others who caused a ‘disproportionate amount of antisocial activity’.
Responding to concerns on Twitter, Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, said: ‘I’m aware of concerns around reckless driving and incidents in Oakham today related to a large event at Rutland Showground.
‘I am liaising with the Council and the Police regarding compliance to COVID regulations and monitoring concerns.’
Supt Adam Slonecki, from Specialist Support at Leicestershire Police said: ‘We can confirm we have received information from local residents in Oakham and Rutland in relation to anti-social behaviour in the area.
Residents claim some attendees attempted to steal from nearby shops or break into premises, while there have allegedly been reports of fighting. Pictured: Caravans at the showground
‘This relates to a private event which is a legally authorised event on private land between Light and Life and Rutland Showground.
‘With permission from the organiser we will be regularly going into the event and continue to engage with the event co-ordinator to ensure they are covid safe.
‘We would like to reassure residents that we have extra foot patrols, a dedicated roads policing car and a specialist drone team operating in the area.
‘In addition, local officers will be engaging with local businesses and licenced premises.
‘We continue to work with the event goers and organisers to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.’
Anyone with any information is visit https://www.leics.police.uk/ro/report/ quoting reference Log 186 of 19 June 2021 or to call 101.
MailOnline has contacted Rutland Showground for further comment.