On Tuesday June 10, Amber Valley Borough Council met at the Town Hall, Market Place, Ripley to hear the premises licence application for the BNP's Red, White and Blue Festival, scheduled to take place on land owned by party member and former Tory-councillor Alan Warner at Denby, Derbyshire from the 15th to the 17th August 2008.
Security at the meeting was tight. Protesters gathering outside were greeted by several van loads of Derbyshire's finest, evidence gatherers and a FIT Team. Inside, the police, who had initially raised no objection to the licence, claimed to have received "significant intelligence" which had forced them to reconsider their position. Fearing conflict between the BNP and anti-fascists they wished to see the imposition of new conditions including the erection of a seven-foot high fence around the site and the installation of temporary security lighting. When invited to sum-up their position the BNP representatives withdrew their application and stormed out of the meeting, insisting they would go ahead without the licence.
Newswire: Red White & Blue festival - Licence Refused | Red White Blue Festival licence refused | Protest Against the BNP: June 10 | Notts Stop the BNP objection to BNP licence application | Object to the BNPs "festival" | Notts Indymedia Anti-Racism Topic Page
Previous features: East Mids Campaigners Up The Anti as BNP Make Electoral Gains | Midlands and Yorkshire organise against the BNP | Broxtowe BNP Councillor Expelled From Party | Anti-fascists successfully blockade BNP meeting venue | BNP wins seat in Broxtowe
Predictably, the BNP were less than enthused by the day's events. John Walker, national treasurer of the BNP, whinged: "We came here with an open mind. As it went on we came to the conclusion that it was becoming a farce because of the hoops we were being asked to jump through by Derbyshire Police. The police have caved in to mob rule. We are going to withdraw this application and this event will go ahead without a licence." Warner's security guard Clarke, even went so far as to accuse the police present at the hearing of being in cahoots with anti-fascists.
This may have come as a surprise to protesters held behind a line of police officers outside the hall. Derbyshire Police utilised Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to corral campaigners into a designated protest zone which they later enclosed with fencing. When they left, anti-fascists had their vehicles followed by the police most of the way to the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border, ostensibly to protect them from the BNP.
The Red White and Blue "festival" is an annual event organised by the BNP for members, friends and family. This year, as last year, it is to be held in Denby, Derbyshire on Alan Warner's farm. While last year's event was hugely controversial with locals, it saw little organised opposition. This year, things look very different with Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP, Derbyshire Unite Against Fascism and Antifa already mobilising against the event and Unite Against Fascism nationally considering their response.
It is clear from the BNP's statements that they intend to go ahead with their festival regardless of the licence. This will cause them problems, however, as they will be unable to sell alcohol or play music. Anti-fascists are continuing to build for a protest against the event, focusing particularly on Saturday August 16th when a national mobilisation against the "festival" has been called.