We have had a number of enquiries from people about access to the real ale festival in Lightwoods Park. Some folk are concerned that family groups will not be able to enter the area reserved for the ale, nor will one adult be able to enter and bring drinks out to their partner looking after the children. The view is that this is not only not family friendly, but also that it encourages a 'boozing-zone' that would not exist if families were allowed in.
The Friends of Lightwoods Park are not only aware of this, they share those concerns. Richard Marshall, Chair of the Friends Group, told the Bearwood Blog, “We originally intended the whole of the park to be licensed. Evidence from the Warley Woods picnic shows that family groups who come along to enjoy themselves and bring a bottle of wine or a couple of cans can do so without any trouble whatsoever. However, for something specifically designated as a real ale festival the police were nervous about allowing open access across the park.
“They told council officers that if we applied for the full license for the whole of the park, they would oppose it, and then the whole thing would have had to be scrapped. Even though we disagree with them, we understand the police concerns. Drinking in public places in Sandwell is an offence which the police are expected to enforce, and for Lightwoods Park to be designated a drinking area – even if just for the day – could send out the wrong message. We also have to pay regards to the fact that our park is located in a residential setting, and we have to live with our neighbours.
“We wanted to add the real ale festival as part of the May Day event and we hope to demonstrate this year that we can hold a disciplined and well run event with a fun atmosphere, and maybe in future years the restrictions on family groups entering the real ale section could be relaxed. But as things stand that simply isn't possible. What we will be doing is ensuring we come down very firmly on is any signs of drunken or disruptive behaviour.”