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Canary Wharf’s Oktoberfest beer festival saved

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 September 2020

Tower Hamlets Council refused a police application to strip the Oktoberfest in Millwall Park of its licence. Picture: PA

Tower Hamlets Council refused a police application to strip the Oktoberfest in Millwall Park of its licence. Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

One of London’s largest Oktoberfest beer festivals will be allowed to continue next year.

The annual Canary Wharf event faced being banned after a bouncer allegedly fractured a customer’s jaw. But Tower Hamlets Council has refused a Met police application to strip it of its licence.

The council added 15 conditions to festival’s licence, including that only traditional Bavarian music can be played and the sale of two and a half pint steins will stop at 10pm. The number of customers will also be capped at 1,500 per event.

The borough’s licensing committee heard the beer festival – one of the largest in London – had been marred by “significant” violent incidents. Staff were also accused of abandoning a vulnerable “lone drunk female in lederhosen hugging a lamppost”.

Pc Mark Perry said the violence at the festival, which attracts thousands of people to Millwall Park over its two weekend run in October, had increased in recent years.

In a report to to the committee, he said: “This is an event that cannot control its customers who are allowed to get drunk, resulting in fights not only at the venue but also at local train stations.

“It shows a lack of care for its customers when a female, who is so drunk she has to hold on to a lamppost for support, is allowed to leave the venue without assistance from any staff there. It is very fortunate that being in such a vulnerable state she was not the victim of a serious crime.”

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He added that police had been called to the venue on a number of occasions to help security staff.

During one incident a woman claimed that she saw a member of the security team hit a customer in the face. “The victim suffered grievous bodily harm injuries as a result of this punch,” according to police.

“His injuries are a fracture of the jaw/cheekbone. The victim has been left with a large scar and stables across the top of his head.”

The Oktoberfest is run by World Wide Festival UK, which since 2011 has put on a similar event in Kensington Olympia attended by over 50,000 visitors each year. Last year the company was refused a licence by Haringey council after a 2018 Oktoberfest in Finsbury Park resulted in a mass brawl.

The licensing committee said it could not take into account events in other boroughs when making its decision.

Supervisor Carsten Raun blamed local gangs “known to police” for starting trouble at the event.

He said: “We helped to establish a great reputation for the area around Millwall Park. In 2019 a Millwall gang of about 30 people visited the event with the main purpose just to start a fight and make trouble. Our security got the gang out of the tent but outside the gang wanted to fight the security. The happening around that gang accident are the main arguments by the police.”

The festival is now likely to resume in 2021.


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