Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 17:54 UK

Bulldog Bash festival to go ahead

A biker arrives for the Bulldog Bash - generic image (pic: Rui Vieira/PA Wire)
Organisers say the annual event poses no threat to public safety

A biker event which police tried to stop due to fears of violence will go ahead, a council has ruled.

Warwickshire Police sought to prevent the annual Bulldog Bash being held due to an escalation in violence between the Outlaws and Hells Angels.

Organisers of the event at Long Marston airfield, near Stratford-on-Avon, said the allegations were unfounded.

But a council committee decided not to revoke the licence and said it had been presented with no evidence of risk.

The Stratford District Council committee said it had been presented with no evidence that the Bulldog Bash was "anything other than a well-managed public event" organised by law-abiding individuals.

Gang tensions

Committee chairman, Councillor Stephen Thirlwell, said the panel recognised there may be tensions between rival gangs but it was not satisfied of any link between such events and the running of the Bulldog Bash.

"Given its history and the controls which are currently in place, we do not believe that the risk is at such a level that further interference is necessary," he said.

Hells Angel Gerry Tobin, 35, was shot dead on the M40 in Warwickshire after leaving the Bulldog Bash in 2007.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the Hells Angels organisation, as opposed to individual members of the organisation, are involved in organised crime
Michael Bromley-Martin QC

At the hearing, Warwickshire Police's counsel, Simon Walsh, said this year's case to revoke the licence was not the same as the case put forward last year.

"Of course, much of the background is similar, but events that have taken place since that hearing mean that the risk, as far as the police are concerned, has increased," he said.

In a written statement, Assistant Chief Constable Bill Holland, said members of the public could be caught in the crossfire if violence erupted.

Michael Bromley-Martin QC, representing the event organisers, said the police force's claims were a last-gasp attempt to have the licence reviewed or revoked upon "spurious grounds".

Airport brawl

"There is no evidence whatsoever that the Hells Angels organisation, as opposed to individual members of the organisation, are involved in organised crime," he said.

The council had been aware of violence at Birmingham airport in January 2008 when a decision to grant the 10-year licence was made, he added.

Seven men from the two rival gangs were each jailed for six years in June after a brawl at Birmingham Airport's Terminal Two.

And the seven men jailed for the murder of Mr Tobin turned out to be the entire chapter of the South Warwickshire Outlaws, based in Coventry.

Mr Bromley-Martin added that the Bulldog Bash had been running for 18 years and there had been no serious violence at the event itself.



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SEE ALSO
Bulldog licence review date set
10 Jul 09 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Public 'at risk' from rival gangs
19 Jun 09 |  West Midlands
Bulldog Bash policing discussed
27 May 09 |  Coventry/Warwickshire

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