‘our weekend of rave hell’ – Residents kept awake all night as 2,000 enjoy 48 hour party
By thisislocallondon – Wednesday 06 September 2000
Police have come under fire from residents of Ewell, Stoneleigh and Worcester Park who suffered a “weekend of hell” from the sound of an illegal rave held more than two miles away.
The Met’s decision not to forcibly evict the 2,000 New Age ravers in Chessington from Friday to Sunday evening has been criticised for putting property before people.
Residents woken by a thunderous noise at midnight on Friday initially assumed noisy neighbours were to blame for the beat – not realising the source was more than two miles away in Jubilee Way.
Those who contacted police were told only environmental health officers at Kingston Council had the power to act. Later it emerged that Met police agreed not to remove the ravers for fear of causing an outbreak of violence.
Weary residents were left with no choice but to seek respite in hotels or friends’ homes – or turn up their own music or televisions to drown out the noise.
Sir Archie Hamilton MP and prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate Chris Grayling, have written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens expressing serious concerns about the way the police handled the event.
Mr Grayling said while Kingston may not have had enough resources, the Met should have been able to send more officers from elsewhere to the site.
He said: “It’s absolutely outrageous the police were unable to deal with a huge illegal gathering of this kind.”
But the acting head of Kingston police, Superintendent Keith Free, insisted he could have called in many more officers if necessary, but the police’s non-confrontational strategy had been the right one: “We have had a safe and successful operation which was marred only by the noise situation.
“To eject them may well have resulted in violence and injury. The decision I took was the safest option – to allow them to continue and to monitor the situation.
He added: “There was always the threat they would move to empty places in the town centre.”
Pensioner Betty Rich, who had to plug her ears until after 4.30am on Friday night, said feelings were running so high in Stoneleigh she feared residents would take matters into their own hands.
She said: “People were out both nights trying to find out where it was coming from – and when they get het up like that they might do something they regret.”
Residents Association councillors representing the affected wards are demanding an explanation from Home Secretary Jack Straw when Parliament reassembles.
Ewell Court Councillor Jean Smith said police had put property before people by giving in to ravers’ threats to move into Kingston town centre.
She said: “Residents of northern wards in Epsom and Ewell went through a weekend of hell, sleep was upset. Our anger was unassuaged.”
The Met’s decision not to evict the ravers has been met with fury by residents. Pictures by Mediaficient.