Decision due on gin festival in Priory Park

A Great British Gin Festival held elsewhere in the country
A Great British Gin Festival held elsewhere in the country

Plans to hold a gin festival in Chichester’s Priory Park this summer are due to be discussed later this week.

The Great British Gin Festival took place in the city last June and its organisers are planning to return on Saturday September 7 and Sunday September 8.

The event, called Gin in the Park, would include a large marquee, live music, food, bars, garden games, masterclasses and trade stands.

An application for a premises licence for the festival has been submitted and is due to be discussed by Chichester district councillors on Thursday (July 11).

Hours of operation would be 12-9.30pm on Saturday and 12-4.30pm on Sunday.

The council has received 15 representations, 13 objecting and two in support.

Residents have raised concerns about the potential for noise disruption and anti-social behaviour.

One resident said: “I object to this event, being yet another excuse to turn a quarter of our public park into an open air ‘drinking hole’.

“It has been amply established that such events are nothing more than an excuse for drunken behaviour on the part of the undesirable elements that it attracts likely to be rampaging around our residential streets late into the night.”

Another objector wrote: “This appears to be a drinking festival split into two sessions and is not a garden party as noted in the application.”

But one of the supporters said: “Many, many of us feel intensely frustrated that the nightlife is determined and throttled by the few who wish to keep our city centre a quiet village for those who live in its heart.

“Chichester is the capital of West Sussex and should have a thriving city centre - that has a bustling and energetic nightlife to boot; with bars offering a wider range of styles and music.”

In an email to residents who raised concerns Nikki England, production and event manager for Gin In The Park, said: “I would really like to reassure you that this event is firstly, not focused around alcohol, and secondly will not encourage anti-social behaviour and drunken debauchery.

“This event is for the gin connoisseur looking to learn and development their knowledge and will be filled with knowledgeable staff, trade stands and exhibitions, with gin masterclasses and trade talks to those who are particularly keen on broadening their knowledge and experience.

“To ensure alcoholic intoxication is kept to a minimum, we do not serve double measures or shots, and every single measure costs from £5 ensuring we do not offer “easy” drinking, therefore, minimising disorder. We also have a fully licensed SIA door supervisor team in place to help with any control should we need assistance.”