Bristol cricket ground wins right to hold three concerts a year despite warning to Tom Jones fans

Tom Jones PIC: PATom Jones PIC: PA
Tom Jones PIC: PA
County Ground neighbours told a licensing hearing that the Welsh superstar’s 2019 performance was marred by antisocial behaviour outside the stadium

The County Ground in Bristol has won permission to hold up to three open-air concerts a year despite residents warning there will be “an uprising” if Tom Jones is asked to play again.

Neighbours told a licensing hearing that the Welsh superstar’s 2019 performance was marred by antisocial behaviour outside the stadium, including allegations of gig-goers urinating on parked cars.

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But Bristol city councillors approved Gloucestershire County Cricket Club’s premises licence application after hearing the event had been largely out of its control because it was run by the singer’s promoters and that the club would be responsible for all future shows.

Residents’ group CG2 representative Alison Boulton told the panel that locals were much more concerned about the noise and disruption of the preparation for events, such as putting up the stage and deliveries, than the loudness of music.

She said: “We are not against the idea of concerts or what the cricket club does – the last thing we want is for it to close and a supermarket built – but we want to make sure everything surrounding these big events is done to reduce the impacts on people near the ground.

“We welcome the fact that the ground will have greater control over these events.

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“If they ever talk about having Tom Jones again, there will be an uprising because that was a really unpleasant evening.

“Antisocial behaviour is always an issue, especially when people have had a bit to drink, and there has been littering, urinating, very loud shouting and some road safety danger where someone could have been run over as people poured down Ashley Down Road after the Tom Jones concert.”

She said residents wanted only one concert a year that was either at a weekend or during school holidays.

Solicitor Jeremy Woodcraft, representing the club, told Bristol City Council licensing sub-committee on Thursday, April 6, that the application and conditions were the same as for the two previous concerts, the other being Madness, and councillors had granted both.

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He said the new, ongoing licence for three gigs a year would give the club the control over them that they had lacked because they had not been the applicants.

Mr Woodcraft said it would also help longer-term planning so that the County Ground would no longer have to seek a one-off licence “almost presumptuously” shortly before a scheduled concert when thousands of tickets had already been sold.

He said: “This licence will facilitate that kind of approach and not having us keeping our fingers crossed that you will say yes.”

Mr Woodcraft said three concerts a year was probably “pie in the sky” and there were more likely to be no more than two, each with a capacity of up to 20,000 but more likely to attract fewer than 15,000 people.

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He said none of the statutory authorities, including the police, had objected and that conditions over noise and traffic had been agreed with the council’s pollution control team, which would have to approve detailed management plans for each event.

The solicitor said conditions on the existing licence already required the club to address traffic and parking problems, as well as paying for policing and arranging park-and-ride for bigger events.

“With regard to the concerns about nuisance from guests, it is a short but intense period of people arriving and a mass outpouring of people later on,” Mr Woodcraft said.

“To address this we have a risk assessment condition for the number of stewards we have.

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“We lose the ability to closely manage people once they leave the ground but we send stewards out to encourage people to leave quietly, and they act as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour.

“We are looking at provision of toilets near the exits.

“The club recognises residents’ concerns and wants to balance their needs with making the most of the ground to make it a sustainable venue.”

Green group leader and Bishopston & Ashley Down ward Cllr Emma Edwards said afterwards: “As a local councillor I can understand that the granting of this licence for three big arena events is a cause of concern and anxiety for residents who live nearby.

“We hope that by going through this licensing process this means the cricket ground will be willing to follow the licensing suggestions and conditions as they host these events.

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“If the licence had not been granted, there is a chance that the cricket ground could have put the events on with temporary event notices instead, which gives the council less power to impose restrictions on behalf of residents.

“My priority now will be to try to ensure the cricket ground and local residents maintain good communication and that the cricket ground engages with the community to put their fears at rest.”

Councillors granted the licence with 107 conditions after hearing they could be tightened up by pollution control if any problems arose.

Live music, alcohol sales and other activities requiring a licence will take place for no more than six hours between 12pm and 11pm on event days.

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