The real ale area…

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.”


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10 Responses to The real ale area…

  1. John Kelly says:

    Does this mean that someone who sits in front of the band stand with a glass of wine listening to the Jazz etc (which I’ve seen people doing at previous events) will be arrested?

    Is it not possible to have an area outside the beer tent where people could drink their beer (still separated from the rest of the festival) but where families could sit together. The children could then still be barred from entering the actual beer tent of course.

    Finally and I couldn’t resist this, what is the point of a Licencing committee if they just do what the police say? who gave the Police this power of veto?


    • Bob says:

      John, the answer to your first question is no, they are extremely unlikely to be arrested. We do actually have an area where people can sit around and drink, but the police insisted that it was limited to over 18s. We have tried to locate it at the back of the music area so that people can still enjoy the music…but not with their families! The potty thing is you can go over the road to The Dog, take the kids in, and have a drink (although you might have to buy some food too).

      The police don’t have a veto, although only Environmental Health and the police can object to a temporary licence, but licensing members get nervous if the police object because they know they will be held responsible if the threatened Armageddon descends. The police also raised some concerns that I cannot share here, and they could have been quite persuasive at a Licensing Committee.

      • John Kelly says:

        Hi Bob,

        My first question was rhetorical, I was pointing out that the police are capable of using their common sense on occasions – maybe I should try to be a bit more obvious with my comments in future.

        If I was a conspiracy theorist your final sentence could get me a bit worried about secret evidence and decisions being made behind closed doors. As one of the organisers of the Birmingham Beer Festival (one of the largest in the country) I would be interested to know if the concerns raised related to beer festivals in general or just to Lightwoods Park?

        If the police are that worried about organised beer festivals maybe they (or at least the senior officers who make these decisions) ought to attend a few of them. I’ve been going to festivals for decades and can honesty say I have never seen any trouble.

        Now for a serious question. Will the drinking vessels in the beer tent be glass or plastic? if the latter can we use our own (lined) glasses?


      • Bob says:

        John, clearly your southern subtlety passed right over my head. I think the main concern by some council officers as well as the police, was containing the drinking within the park if the whole park was licensed, as well as the difficulty of underage people drinking if others by drink for them. Perhaps if people with families feel strongly enough about this they should contact Richard Marshall in writing, and then their letters can be used in evidence if we resubmit next year.

        Finally… Plastic, but if the odd few bought their own glasses I doubt that will be a problem (although it’s not my decision).

  2. denton says:

    So to confirm as we were planning on attending with young children. To drink alcohol from the festival they can only do so in the designated area where no children are allowed. As a responsible parent how will this be a family day as advertised

  3. richard marshall says:

    Denton as a father of 3 of which one is not allowed in the ‘zone’ I sympathise but sometimes you have to look to the long game and think……we have a Real ]Ale Festival in the park this year and we didnt last year..what could we have next year??

    • keithbracey says:

      Brilliant response Richard……some people aren’t happy unless they are moaning about something…..more power to your elbow…..the collective Bearwood elbow that is!….What would Beerwood do with out you mate?????……..!!!!! Be a bloody miserable place in flamin Sandwell with nowt goin on…..that’s what it would be……ignore ’em and keep on keeping on……we’ll mek em enjoy emselves whether they loike it aw not…..!!!!! Now about this ‘Tug O War…..sounds a bit tooooooooo serious ter me maerte!!!!! I dow wanna hurt me legs and ankles yer no!

      Keith Bracey

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