Violence sparks fears for future of Pevfest

VIOLENCE broke out at Pevfest at the weekend as thousands of people descended on the village for the free charity music event.

The annual fundraiser, which started as a garden party and became a village-wide event, was a ‘victim of its own success’ on Saturday (July 23).

Now the residents and businesses in Pevensey Bay fear the event may not return next year and are blaming a small minority for ‘ruining’ what was supposed to be a family event.

The day-long music festival, which boasted 50 bands playing in pubs around Pevensey and Pevensey Bay, started in the morning with a range of successful activities including a parade through the village.

However, by 5pm there were people walking the streets with beer cans and vodka bottles and the atmosphere had changed.

Police attended and made two arrests. The Bay Hotel also closed its doors because of the trouble.

Stephan Ritchie, the landlord of the Beach Tavern and the chairman of Wealden Pubwatch, said someone in his pub was slapped around the face but he managed to calm down the incident. He has long supported Pevfest and remained open throughout the evening but heightened his security.

“It got to about 5pm and there was an feeling in the village that something was going to happen,” said Mr Ritchie.

He added, “There were probably about 10,000 people here in Pevensey Bay. Some people told me they had come from as far as north London for the event.

“We were extremely busy and taking £1,000 an hour but I left the bar and stood outside my pub and started to restrict access.

“The main problem was groups of people between the ages of 18 and 24 who were coming to the village with their own alcohol, and we can’t control that,”

Mr Ritchie said the village streets and the beach were littered with bottles and cans after the event.

He said the various fights and anti-social behaviour could put an end to popular Pevfest but added, “The event itself is deemed to be very successful. It was only the actions of a few mindless idiots that ruined it.

“On Sunday, everyone was saying it was a shame it ended that way. They also said it had become a victim of its own success.”

Mr Ritchie said he would like the event to take place next year but suggested a major sponsor would need to come forward to help fund security.

White’s News on Coast Road was also broken into on the night of Pevfest. It had its door kicked in and a small quantity of sweets were taken.

Each year the event raises funds for local charities and this year Beachy Head Chaplaincy, St Wilfrid’s Hospice, the Pevensey and Westham branch of East Sussex Disability Association, Pevensey Bay Information Centre and Pevensey Bay Community Action Group are set to benefit.

Inspector Tony Wakefield said, “Pevfest is a fantastic community event which raises funds for local charities.

“This year’s event was potentially spoilt by the behaviour of a few people who were quickly dealt with by officers. I hope the majority of people enjoyed the event.”

Police arrested two men including a 21-year-old man from Eastbourne on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm during an incident in Eastbourne Road at around 10.30pm. He has been bailed until August 29 pending further enquiries.

During Pevfest dispersal orders were issued to two people requesting them to leave the area for 24 hours.

n There was plenty of fun had by all before the day turned nasty – see Friday’s Eastbourne Herald for pictures of the event.