Party promoter vows court action against police who blocked garage music event

PARTY ORGANISER: Derek Milligan.
PARTY ORGANISER: Derek Milligan.
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A PARTY promoter has slammed Northumbria Police after they stopped an event going ahead, only to withdraw an application to have his venue closed down the following day.

Derek Milligan claims he is £7,000 down in costs and lost income after officers put paid to his garage music event at The Mess Room in Pallion on Saturday, as reported in yesterday’s Echo.

The building in Pallion's Woodbine Terrace.

The building in Pallion's Woodbine Terrace.

The parties are held to raise funds to reopen the not-for-profit Dockyard Skate and BMX Park, run by Derek’s company Dexx North East.

It is the latest in a series of events Derek has had to cancel over concerns about potential crime and disorder but he feels that he has put all safety measures – and more – in place.

Mr Milligan said he was only given short notice of the 24-hour closure, leaving him out of pocket, and claims police had known about the plans since the beginning of January.

He said: “They knew they wanted to close the event down and they did nothing about it. That’s unacceptable, and not what I’d expect from the police.”

Sunderland magistrates had been due to hear an application to extend the 24-hour notice under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, yesterday, but it was cancelled. “They have withdrawn the notice the same time they submitted it. That to me is unacceptable,” Derek said. “It has denied a court deciding whether it was right or lawful and if the police have abused their powers.”

“You are here because the police served you with a closure notice,” District Judge Roger Elsey told him. “The police are not here and I think that is because we have a notice of cancellation of the closure notice, dated February 1, at 10.45am, signed by the Chief Inspector, saying ‘I’m cancelling this closure notice with immediate effect and the magistrates’ court hearing will not take place’.”

Mr Milligan told the judge of his dismay at the financial loss and that police had not attended court to give an explanation or justify their actions.

Judge Elsey said: “I cannot make any order when there is a cancellation notice.

“You will have to pursue the issue of loss and damages through the civil courts.

“I understand you have got legitimate concerns, but it is a matter of how you pursue it.”

When asked after the hearing, whether he plans to take legal action, Derek said: “That goes without saying.” He is also looking for new a venue, closer to the city centre.

Northumbria Police declined to comment yesterday.

Sunderland Area Command chief superintendent Kay Blyth previously told the Echo: “As with any event, we must be satisfied that all necessary measures have been taken to ensure the public will be safe when attending.

“Following a previous event at the premises there are significant concerns regarding the potential for crime and disorder associated with this event.

“We have issued a Closure Notice under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act for the event, and the correct procedure was to issue this on Saturday for 24 hours.

“However, we recognise the need to give notice to organisers and attendees of our plans to do this.

“More than a week ago we requested organisers close voluntarily, and then on Tuesday, January 27, we notified the organiser of our intention to issue a closure notice on Saturday.

“Our view is there has been ample time to inform attendees.

“While we always work closely with the organisers of events in advance our priority is always public safety and on this occasion there were concerns for the welfare of those attending.”