Little Stoke Foodies Festival granted licence despite objections from police & environmental health

Photo of the crowd at an open-air music event.
Archive image: Crowd at a Foodies Festival.

The Bristol Foodies Festival will go ahead next month in Little Stoke Park after councillors granted permission despite police and environmental health objections.

South Gloucestershire Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee heard the organisers have run the event 128 times across the country since 2005 without a single serious issue and that parking for 600 cars had been found in a nearby field, amid concerns about streets and driveways being blocked.

The three-day food and drink extravaganza from Friday 12th May to Sunday 14th May 2023, which includes demonstrations by celebrity chefs and a funfair, has been held for several years on Clifton Downs.

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It was under threat after Bristol City Council refused to allow it back, citing poor management of the event.

And then police and South Gloucestershire health & safety officials said its new location at Little Stoke Park, in the middle of a housing estate, was inappropriate because residents would suffer noise, nuisance and antisocial behaviour.

But earlier today (Thursday 20th April 2023), the sub-committee granted a premises licence for live music – including chart-topping throwback headline acts Blue and Scouting For Girls – and alcohol sales from 11am to 10pm after hearing the performances would end at 8pm and attendees, expected to be 3,000 a day, would leave the site gradually.

Promotional poster.

Barring serious issues, it means the festival will be held there annually for the next three years before a fresh premises licence application is needed.

Avon and Somerset Police licensing officer Wes Hussey told the hearing:

“Our objection is that the venue is wholly unsuitable and inappropriate for this size of event and its closeness to houses.”

“Holding an event of this size at this location is likely to have an adverse, negative impact on residents’ mental health and wellbeing.”

Mr Hussey said the proposed car park at the nearby Mike Gallivan Memorial Fields had only one way in and out through a farm gate.

He said part of Little Stoke Park would remain open for the general public but this could attract some people to bring their own alcohol and sit outside the fence listening to the music.


Stoke Gifford neighbourhood police Sgt Craig Doyle said:

“My main concern is the knock-on effect the extra footfall would have on residents.”

“It’s a small, busy road and all the adjoining streets have residential traffic.”

“The neighbourhood policing cover would be very minimal and should anything significant happen, it would have to pull on local response capabilities or other specialist units.”

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South Gloucestershire Council’s Food Health & Safety team leader Richard Ryder said:

“We had concerns because Bristol City Council let us know the reasons they didn’t allow the festival to continue at the Downs, which raised alarm bells with us.”

He said these included stewards failing to search people on entry despite promises from organisers.

Mr Ryder said the event management plan failed to include risk assessments of the axe-throwing (see below) or the distance between hot food outlets for fire safety.

He said there was also scant detail about stewarding or security and the food traders, although the festival had since confirmed they would require a minimum four-star hygiene rating.

Mr Ryder said:

“The information we received was very late.”

“We have since received more information but our confidence in the management of the event is quite low.”

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Environmental protection officer Sophie Hatfield said:

“The noise management plan is not as detailed and robust as we would expect given the size of the event.”

“Although the music is scheduled to finish at 8pm, people will still be on site until 10pm, so for three days this has the potential to have a significant impact on residents.”

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Solicitor Piers Warne, representing Foodies Festival, said many residents had expressed support for the event and had bought tickets.

He said that unlike huge events like Glastonbury Festival which pays for policing, Foodies had not done so because there had never been any need.

Mr Warne said:

“It’s not going to affect the day-to-day management of the police service and there is no additional resource being called on.”

He said many details, such as numbers of stewards, typically did not get finalised until very near the event in consultation with the council’s safety advisory group, which Mr Ryder chairs and includes police, fire and ambulance representatives.

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“We don’t accept any allegations that this is ever a poorly managed event,” Mr Warne said.

“Bristol City Council provided partial information to officers and frankly I’m severely disappointed in how they comported themselves in providing information about this – it has given an unfair impression of what happened.”

He said it omitted the positive feedback from city council officers and that other authorities around the country had congratulated Foodies on how it was run.

Mr Warne said the original application was for a permanent licence but that this would be reduced to three years.

He said the stage and speakers would point away from the houses towards the railway track.

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Mr Warne said alcohol sales would stop at 8.40pm on Friday and Saturday and 7.40pm on Sunday, with live music ending at 8pm on each day while the first two evenings would have recorded music until 9pm which would help disperse the crowds by 9.30pm.

He said that since the festival began in Edinburgh 18 years ago there had been no food poisoning outbreaks – a concern raised as a risk by environmental health because of a lack of information on the application – and no serious crime or disorder.

While the capacity was for 5,000, there were more likely to be 3,000 people, the solicitor said.

Mr Warne said the busiest times were 1pm to 3pm for the food and drink rather than the music later on.


He said that while the entrance gateway to the parking was “not ideal”, it would be managed effectively and that other options were explored, including the Rolls-Royce car park in Filton but that the company had declined to give permission because of an arson attack on dozens of vehicles a year ago.

Mr Warne said noise levels would be engineered and monitored by a professional acoustics company throughout the festival and that most attendees would travel on public transport.

He said anyone sitting outside the fence for free would hear only muffled, distorted music.

Foodies production manager Terry Barratt said a planned axe-throwing event, over which officials had raised concerns, was very safe and was contained inside a cage and netting with blunt axes and had been part of the festival for two years without incident.

✍️ Article by Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Additional reporting by the Journal

Site layout

The festival site will be enclosed by Heras fencing on an area of the park to the north-west of the 3G pitch, community hall and café.

The music stage will be closest to the 3G pitch, with the fairground sited along the south-western boundary of the enclosed area.

The remainder of the site will mostly be occupied by food stalls and exhibitors.

Proposed site layout plan.
Proposed site layout plan of the Foodies Festival event in Little Stoke Park (as submitted with the premises licence application).

Car parking

It is understood that the organisers had originally planned to provide public car parking on the nearby Rolls-Royce site, but this option became unavailable following the shocking multi-vehicle arson attack on that site in April 2022.

They now say they have obtained permission from Stoke Gifford Parish Council to use the Mike Gallivan Memorial Fields, which lie on the opposite side of Little Stoke Lane to the park, with vehicles restricted to parking on areas that are not used as sports pitches.

A police representative and a member of the public speaking at the licensing sub-committee meeting both expressed concern that there is only a single “farm gate” access to the Mike Gallivan Memorial Fields. Questions were also asked about how well the fields and access would cope if the weather was wet, to which the organisers replied that “trackways and/or woodchip” could be used if the ground becomes muddy.

Above: The single access point for the Mike Gallivan Memorial Fields, off Little Stoke Lane, through which vehicles will pass to enter and leave the parking area. Interactive image: Google Street View

The organisers say they will be promoting the use of public transport and consequently plan to make provision for only “about 600” cars. This number was justified on the grounds that most vehicles will have multiple occupants and if people are intending to drink at the festival, they won’t drive.

More information

For further information and to book tickets, visit Bristol Foodies Festival 2023.

See also: Foodies Festival on Facebook

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  1. In which fantasy land do 600 cars get parked on the car park in Little Stoke Park and the Gallivan Fields without using the Sports Pitches.

    Also is there any Guarantee that the main pitch in the field used by Little Stoke Football club will be fully restored if any damage occurs.

    Will the councillors and Parish Clark accept personal liability for damage to any property in Little Stoke caused by Festival visitors or anyone drawn to the area by the opportunity for free music.

    Will the council and Police enforce street parking rules so drives are not blocked over than weekend and also monitor and enforce noise levels. Or do residents have to confront any poor behaviour and risk being assaulted or accused of assaulting/abusing a visitor just for politely asking them to be respectful of local residents

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