Anti-social behaviour claims after travellers arrive at Christian festival near famous Cheddar Gorge

Business owners in a rural village near to famous Cheddar Gorge claim they have ‘gone into lockdown‘ due to ‘anti-social behaviour’ from ‘louts’ taking part in a Christian traveller festival.

Around 150 caravans, campervans and trailers have pitched-up around a giant tent at the gathering on a field at the edge of Cheddar, Somerset. 

It is believed the group are taking part in an event called Tent Revival. 

The event is thought to be run by the Light and Life Church – an evangelical Christian movement lead by the travelling community.

It comes months after travellers attending an evangelical Christian festival in the market town of Oakham, Rutland, caused mayhem.

The event – which like the Cheddar festival also featured a giant tent – saw police intervene after reports of anti-social behaviour, assaults and high-speed drag-racing.

The group parked up in Cheddar on Monday for the start of the six-day festival – which includes nightly gospel readings held in a circus tent. 

Signs outside the festival advertising the readings say ‘everyone is welcome’ to attend.

However, while the sign paints a picture of peace and spirituality, residents say the village has been blighted by ‘anti-social behaviour’ since the festival began.

Council chiefs and police bosses today confirmed they had received reports of anti-social behaviour since the group’s arrival. 

Bosses of the council admit they were also caught off guard by the arrival of the travellers, because organisers of the festival did not inform them in advance. 

Police, meanwhile, have vowed to increase patrols in the area for the remainder of the festival, which is due to end tomorrow.

Business owners in a rural village near to famous Cheddar Gorge say they have gone into 'lockdown' due to 'anti-social behaviour' from travellers taking part in a Christian festival (pictured: Caravans and campervans at the site)

Business owners in a rural village near to famous Cheddar Gorge say they have gone into 'lockdown' due to 'anti-social behaviour' from travellers taking part in a Christian festival (pictured: Caravans and campervans at the site)

Business owners in a rural village near to famous Cheddar Gorge say they have gone into ‘lockdown’ due to ‘anti-social behaviour’ from travellers taking part in a Christian festival (pictured: Caravans and campervans at the site)

Around 150 caravans, campervans and trailers have pitched-up around a giant tent (pictured) at the gathering on a field at the edge of Cheddar, Somerset

Around 150 caravans, campervans and trailers have pitched-up around a giant tent (pictured) at the gathering on a field at the edge of Cheddar, Somerset

Around 150 caravans, campervans and trailers have pitched-up around a giant tent (pictured) at the gathering on a field at the edge of Cheddar, Somerset 

It is believed the group are taking part in an event called Tent Revival. The event is thought to be run by the Light and Life Church - an evangelical Christian movement lead by the travelling community

It is believed the group are taking part in an event called Tent Revival. The event is thought to be run by the Light and Life Church - an evangelical Christian movement lead by the travelling community

It is believed the group are taking part in an event called Tent Revival. The event is thought to be run by the Light and Life Church – an evangelical Christian movement lead by the travelling community

It comes as residents in the village say they have had to shut businesses due to anti-social behaviour since the festival (pictured) began

It comes as residents in the village say they have had to shut businesses due to anti-social behaviour since the festival (pictured) began

It comes as residents in the village say they have had to shut businesses due to anti-social behaviour since the festival (pictured) began 

It comes months after travellers attending an evangelical Christian festival in the market town of Oakham, Rutland (pictured), caused mayhem. The event - which like the Cheddar festival also featured a giant tent - saw police intervene after reports of anti-social behaviour, assaults and high-speed drag-racing

It comes months after travellers attending an evangelical Christian festival in the market town of Oakham, Rutland (pictured), caused mayhem. The event - which like the Cheddar festival also featured a giant tent - saw police intervene after reports of anti-social behaviour, assaults and high-speed drag-racing

It comes months after travellers attending an evangelical Christian festival in the market town of Oakham, Rutland (pictured), caused mayhem. The event – which like the Cheddar festival also featured a giant tent – saw police intervene after reports of anti-social behaviour, assaults and high-speed drag-racing

How residents were left in ‘state of panic’ by evangelical Christian festival in Rutland

Residents in the market town of Oakham were left in a ‘state of panic’ in June amid anti-social behaviour, assaults, high-speed drag-racing after a group of 1,500 travellers attended an evangelical Christian festival.

Several supermarkets and other businesses in the town in Rutland closed early following claims of looting and toilets being left unusable for customers.

Witnesses said maskless youths terrorised staff and diners in the local McDonald’s and went behind the counter to grab meals and hurl food and drink.

The event, held on the Rutland Showground for the Pentecostal Gypsy-led Christians, was called the Festival of Light and Life.

Multiple locals claimed online that the team running the Rutland Showground were duped and allegedly told it would only involve a small number of people – but instead hundreds of caravans turned up and a giant circus tent was pitched.  

Organisers admitted ‘a lot of non-Christians attended’. They denied there had been major problems and invited critics in for a ‘cup of tea and a sandwich’.

 

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It comes as residents in the village say they have had to shut businesses due to anti-social behaviour since the festival began. 

Residents say a number of local businesses have temporarily closed, while at least one pub has shut early on two days this week.

A local football club has also postponed a home match because of what it describes as ‘a situation in the village’.

Police say they will step up patrols after the camp was set up on a field on the A371 Draycott Road.

The site is privately owned by landowner, who rented the group the site for six days. 

The first that was known about the festival was when caravans started to arrive on Monday bringing gridlock to local roads.

Both police and Cheddar Parish Council say they have received reports from residents and businesses about antisocial behaviour since the group arrived. 

One local said the village had effectively ‘gone into lockdown’ since the group arrived.

Another said on a local Facebook group: ‘Young louts from the “rally” went along the high street in Cheddar this afternoon shouting and acting as louts kicking rubbish boxes onto the busy main road. 

‘No when asked to stop and pick them up being met with a tirade of the foulest longest ever.’ 

Meanwhile, one person who visited the area recently said she had encountered a group of what she described as ‘louts’ from the festival while in the village.

Commenting on the Facebook group, she said: ‘As locals you must be appalled by whoever allowed this gathering to take place. 

‘I saw elderly citizens approached by these louts and one lady almost pushed from her bicycle.’

Others complained about the traffic, with one local saying on the same group: ‘Who thought it was a good idea to hold the biggest caravan rally I’ve ever seen in the village? 

‘Traffic chaos in the village as badly organised traffic control and cars and caravans queuing to enter field.’

However others defended the group, with one saying: ‘Seems like they are doing nothing wrong apart from actually being there. 

‘Are the local tarring people with the same brush without establishing who or what the group are?’

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police confirmed the force had received reports of anti-social behaviour.

A spokesperson said: ‘We’ve received a small number of reports of antisocial behaviour in connection with an authorised encampment in Cheddar.

‘The neighbourhood team will be carrying out reassurance patrols over the coming days and engaging with those in attendance.

Residents say a number of local businesses have temporarily closed, while at least one pub has shut early on two days this week following anti-social behaviour following the arrival of the festival (pictured)

Residents say a number of local businesses have temporarily closed, while at least one pub has shut early on two days this week following anti-social behaviour following the arrival of the festival (pictured)

Residents say a number of local businesses have temporarily closed, while at least one pub has shut early on two days this week following anti-social behaviour following the arrival of the festival (pictured)

Police say they will step up patrols after the camp was set up on a field on the A371 Draycott Road (pictured). The site is privately owned by landowner, who rented the group the site for six days

Police say they will step up patrols after the camp was set up on a field on the A371 Draycott Road (pictured). The site is privately owned by landowner, who rented the group the site for six days

Police say they will step up patrols after the camp was set up on a field on the A371 Draycott Road (pictured). The site is privately owned by landowner, who rented the group the site for six days

Both police and Cheddar Parish Council say they have received reports from residents and businesses about antisocial behaviour since the group arrived. Residents say they have found nitrous oxide cannisters near the site since the arrival of the group

Both police and Cheddar Parish Council say they have received reports from residents and businesses about antisocial behaviour since the group arrived. Residents say they have found nitrous oxide cannisters near the site since the arrival of the group

Both police and Cheddar Parish Council say they have received reports from residents and businesses about antisocial behaviour since the group arrived. Residents say they have found nitrous oxide cannisters near the site since the arrival of the group

‘We’d ask that any reports of crime or antisocial behaviour are directed to police on 101.’

It is understood that the festival is due to end tomorrow. Local businesses are understood to have increased security since the group arrived.

A spokesman for the council said: ‘The parish council was not aware of the festival prior to the arrival on Monday.

‘The police have advised that it is not an illegal encampment and that people camped are there with the owner’s permission.

‘Our understanding is that the festival is due to end on Friday.

‘The parish council have received reports of antisocial behaviour and would advise anyone with issues to report them directly to the police.’  

Life and Light Church, who are believed to be behind the event, is an evangelical Christian movement lead by the travelling community.  

The group claims ‘up to 40% of British Gypsies’ are part of it. 

Practitioners abstain from alcohol and fortune-telling and engage in ‘Charismatic’ prayer – also known as  Spirit-filled Christianity – which focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit and divine miracles.

MailOnline has attempted to contact representatives of Light and Life for comment.     

It comes after residents in the market town of Oakham were left in a ‘state of panic’ in June amid anti-social behaviour, assaults, high-speed drag-racing after a group of 1,500 travellers attended an evangelical Christian festival.

Several supermarkets and other businesses in the town in Rutland closed early following claims of looting and toilets being left unusable for customers.

Witnesses said maskless youths terrorised staff and diners in the local McDonald’s and went behind the counter to grab meals and hurl food and drink.

The event, held on the Rutland Showground for the Pentecostal Gypsy-led Christians, was  called the Festival of Light and Life.

Organisers admitted ‘a lot of non-Christians attended’. They denied there had been major problems and invited critics in for a ‘cup of tea and a sandwich’.

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