Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 16:26 UK

'Crusade' against biker festival

A biker arrives for the Bulldog Bash - generic image (pic: Rui Vieira/PA Wire)
Police have said the public could be put at risk by the festival

Bikers at the Bulldog Bash in Warwickshire say the force's assistant chief constable has embarked on a "personal crusade" against the event.

Police failed to get the festival near Stratford-upon-Avon stopped, despite claiming there had been an escalation in violence between rival biker gangs.

Bikers say tactics are heavy-handed, with checks on those entering the site.

Police said there was a small criminal minority among the vast majority of "people out to enjoy themselves".

The council has backed the event and went through everything to give us the licence - Mr Holland seems to be a very bad loser
Echo, Bulldog Bash spokesman

The festival, at Long Marston airfield, officially starts on Thursday.

Organisers say the yearly gathering is a family event but that an "army of police" is surrounding the site.

Echo, a spokesman for the festival, told BBC News that Asst Ch Con Bill Holland "seems determined" to stop it.

"Trucks, vans and individuals are being searched," he said.

"It's unnecessary, expensive, disruptive for us and for the locals.

"It's a shame as Mr Holland seems to have a personal crusade to stop the Bulldog.

"The council has backed the event and went through everything to give us the licence - Mr Holland seems to be a very bad loser."

'Under orders'

Echo said bikers were being made aware of their legal rights regarding searches and being reminded that officers are following orders.

"We work with Warwickshire Police and understand officers are under orders," he added.

"We're also telling people to go into the local area and spend money, as the festival makes a big difference to local businesses."

During a bid to have the gathering banned, police cited the case of seven men from the Hells Angels and Outlaws gangs who were each jailed for six years in June after a brawl at Birmingham Airport's Terminal Two.

Gerry Tobin
Gerry Tobin was shot dead on a motorway after the Bulldog Bash

And seven men were jailed for the murder of Gerry Tobin, a Hells Angel shot dead on the M40 in 2007 as he returned from the Bulldog Bash.

The men turned out to be the entire chapter of the South Warwickshire Outlaws, based in Coventry.

Warwickshire Police has also said the festival raises money to fund criminal activities.

However, a council committee decided not to revoke the event's licence, saying it had been presented with no evidence of risk.

Last year, Stratford-on-Avon District Council extended the festival's licence until 2018.

Assistant Chief Constable Bill Holland has said that although the majority of the 20,000 people who attend the festival are law-abiding, they are not fully aware of the true illegal behaviour of outlaw motorcycle clubs.

He said there was a "clear, evidenced, and significant risk" to innocent members of the public if the Bulldog Bash was allowed to take place.

The force has said the operation to police the event will cost about £1.4m.



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SEE ALSO
Bulldog Bash festival to go ahead
21 Jul 09 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
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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