Friday, June 16, 2006


The police have refused Norman Cook permission to hold another Brighton Beach party, like a mother shaking her head and saying "Not after last time."

The last time, in 2002, saw the expected 100,000 crowd more than double to the point where it's estimated nearly a quarter of a million people were down on the seafront. The evening did end in a bit of a mess, with the police then happily slapping themselves on the back.

At the time, Inspector Kevin Claxon told the Evening Argus that the surprisingly low arrest rate - just six, well below the number you'd usually expect on a summer evening in the city - was due to the police not having the resources to arrest more, as the overwhelmed cops struggled to cope. It never occurred to him at the time that maybe Sussex Police were at fault for only booking fifty officers on that evening - even if the numbers hadn't been more than expected, that seems to have been a major underestimate.

Troubles were exacerbated by the train operating companies. Foreign readers may assume that this title suggests a business designed to provide railways services, but, rather, the TOCs are in existence to sell tickets; the actual journeys are left to sort themselves out. So it was one of the companies ran adverts encouraging people to buy day return tickets from London to Brighton for the beach party, somehow neglecting to mention that the event would end at midnight, over an hour after the last train back had left, and leaving thousanads stranded on Brighton station, and spilling out onto the streets, for the night.

There was also tragedy - the death of one of those on the beach was widely reported at the time, mainly as an example of how out of control the whole thing had got; less well reported was the coroner's finding that the death was an accident, and wasn't caused by the numbers of people.

In other words: there were lessons to be learned, and a mature country will have learned them and thought about giving it another go. Instead, the Sussex Police are effectively saying they're incapable of coping with any crowd bigger than, ooh, that which you might expect at a Labour Party Conference. If that's really the case, the Chief Constable Joe Edwards might like to think about handing in his badge and letting someone who's able to have a go. The police are always stressing about how they're having to protect us form anarcho-syndicalist-Islamiscist-Zionist-nationalist terrorists, and yet ask them to turn up and keep an eye on a glorified barbecue and they go "better not, might get out of hand..."


Anonymous said...

Glorified Barbeque my arse. Fair enough the organisation was piss poor, but why point it all at the police. No stewards, a quarter of a million people crunching glass bottles into the beach, rendering parts of it dangerous and unusable for most of the summer, ludicrously inadequate toilet facilities, even more ludicrously inadequate staging and sound system topped off with ridiculous over-hyping and PRing on the part of Norm's management(including a centre spread in a red-top on the day of the party saying "it's the party of the year").

Fair enough, it could be done again so much better, but last time it was a fucking disaster, not a "glorified barbecue".

I'm not against the parties, mind. It's a shame no one ever mentions the very first Norm beach party, which had similar facilities, yet wasn't advertised much outside the local area and the music press, hence 30-50,000 people having a fantastic time and acting responsibly.

You can see where it went wrong.

Anonymous said...

You know he's doing one in Portrush on Saturday? It'll be very interesting to see if the organisers there have learned the lessons..

(Gave you a little mention here, btw)

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