Page last updated at 18:29 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 19:29 UK

Thousands at bikers' Bulldog Bash

Bikers arrive for the Bulldog Bash (pic: Rui Vieira/PA Wire)
Police initially tried to stop the event

More than 23,000 people attended the annual bikers' festival, the Bulldog Bash, despite police concerns over violence between rival biker gangs.

Organisers said they had expected 15,000 people to attend the four-day festival at Long Marston airfield, near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.

Police had initially tried to stop the event taking place.

They feared tension following the 2007 murder of Hells Angel Gerry Tobin and a riot at Birmingham Airport last year.

Policing operation

Warwickshire Police made a bid to have the event's licence revoked after senior officers voiced concern about "heightened" tension between the Hells Angels and a rival gang, the Outlaws.

But despite their efforts, a district council committee dismissed the application.

They turned out in their thousands, despite claims that members of the public faced a serious risk of violence
Bulldog Bash organiser

Organiser Bilbo said it seemed efforts to stop the event had made it more popular.

He said: "Bill Holland (Warwickshire Police assistant chief constable) said he wanted to protect the locals, yet we have had more locals than ever.

"They turned out in their thousands, despite claims that members of the public faced a serious risk of violence."

A spokeswoman for Warwickshire Police said the policing operation at the festival was still under way and they would not be releasing any information or figures until Monday.

Seven men were jailed for the murder of Gerry Tobin, a Hells Angel who was shot dead on the M40 two years ago as he returned home from the Bulldog Bash.

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

Further violence erupted the following year when rival biker gang members became involved in a brawl at Birmingham Airport's Terminal Two.

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