Travel

McDonald’s shuts after 1,500 travellers invade town for ‘reckless’ festival

A MCDONALD’S restaurant close to a gypsy Christian religious event in Rutland has been forced to shut its doors.

An estimated 1,500 travellers have landed at the Rutland Showground for a Pentecostal event called the festival of “Light and Life”.

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McDonald’s in Oakham was forced to shut its doors todayCredit: © Terry Harris
The reason behind its closure is not yet known

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The reason behind its closure is not yet knownCredit: © Terry Harris
Hundreds of caravans were camped in the two fields beside the massive tent where the event was held

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Hundreds of caravans were camped in the two fields beside the massive tent where the event was heldCredit: SWNS

“Unfortunately we have had to shut our dine-in area and toilets until further notice,” the notice on the door of the Oakham McDonald’s read.

“However we will still be open through our drive-thru as usual you must be in a vehicle.

“Unfortunately our click and serve will also be temporarily closed. Thank you.”

The reason behind the closure is not yet known.

Police were spotted patrolling the area around the fast food restaurant and its carpark.

McDonalds have been contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, angry locals have blasted a gypsy church for posing a Covid risk to the local community.

Images from the event show hundreds of caravans parked in fields near the showground. 

Police patrolled the area around the restaurant after it closed

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Police patrolled the area around the restaurant after it closedCredit: © Terry Harris
The event is being held at the Rutland Showground near Oakham

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The event is being held at the Rutland Showground near OakhamCredit: © Terry Harris
Locals have blasted the religious event for putting people's lives at risk

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Locals have blasted the religious event for putting people’s lives at riskCredit: © Terry Harris

And they said the local town had been blighted by speeding cars and anti-social behaviour during the event at the Rutland Showground, in Oakham, Rutland.


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One resident said: “This must be up there as the most ridiculous decision ever made by anyone ever. It’s putting our entire community at risk.”

Local MP Alicia Kearns said: “I’m aware of concerns around reckless driving and incidents in Oakham related to a large event at Rutland Showground.

“I am liaising with the Council and the Police regarding compliance to COVID regulations.”

Speaking to The Sun yesterday, residents claimed some attending the event at the Rutland Showground had attempted to steal from shops and break into buildings, while others had allegedly begun fighting in the streets.

One local told The Sun: “We’re scared to leave our houses. They have blocked one of the bypasses with their trucks and some local staff in shops have been physically and verbally abused. 

“The residents of Oakham are scared.” 

The decision to hold the event has been called the 'most ridiculous decision made by anyone ever' by locals

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The decision to hold the event has been called the ‘most ridiculous decision made by anyone ever’ by localsCredit: Ashley Kirk
Police received reports of anti-social behaviour linked to festival attendees in the nearby town of Oakham

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Police received reports of anti-social behaviour linked to festival attendees in the nearby town of OakhamCredit: Ashley Kirk

Locals in the nearby historic town of Oakham claim anti-social behaviour linked to the gathering has caused deep distress.

One resident who was walking his dog near the gathering, saw cars racing along the Rutland bypass.

He described the scene as like “something out of Mad Max”. 

He told The Sun: “I saw a top-spec Range Rover turning out of the site and hit almost 80mph in seconds. 

“Behind was a Mustang doing the same. 

“It was mayhem and it was only at about midnight that the trailers stopped arriving.

“This morning they were arriving again.” 

Others took to social media to question whether the mass outdoor event should have been allowed given the national spike in Covid case numbers.

One asked the Rutland Showground: “How have you allowed a huge event to take place which threatens a community which has obeyed the rules and kept covid levels low? 

Two girls walk out of the venue where the event is being held in Leicestershire

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Two girls walk out of the venue where the event is being held in LeicestershireCredit: SWNS
Hundreds of caravans arrived at the Showground for the festival
Hundreds of caravans arrived at the Showground for the festival

“This beggars belief. Time to shut the event down.”

Some working in Oakham also took to social media to describe the physical and verbal abuse they claimed to have received.

One shop worker wrote online: “It was very upsetting to see my colleagues and I face physical and verbal abuse when they were simply trying to do their job. 

“They were not wearing masks nor were they socially distancing. 

“The town is now in a state of panic. This was all for the sake of money and it’s disgusting.” 

But Rutland Agricultural Society CEO Kevin Tighe has said it is only a “minority” of attendees who have been “causing a disproportionate amount of antisocial activity”.

Police are working with event organisers to ensure Covid safety

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Police are working with event organisers to ensure Covid safetyCredit: Ashley Kirk

“The Rutland Agricultural Society had accepted a booking of its showground site on the edge of Oakham from St Hilda’s Church Darlington to run a Christian Festival,” he said.

“This outdoor event is self-contained using no onsite facilities other than a set of fields of around 45 acres.  

“It is being managed by 90 pastors supported by a team of 40 stewards. In addition, we have a team of security staff on site.

“We required the event organisers produce an event risk assessment which covered a with a range of issues including the management of covid risks.   

“To the best of our knowledge this is being implemented.”

He added: “The event which has around 1,500 adults and children in their own motor homes and caravans has also attracted a minority who have been causing a disproportionate amount of antisocial activity.

An estimated 1,500 adults and children are attending a Christian festival at Rutland Showground

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An estimated 1,500 adults and children are attending a Christian festival at Rutland ShowgroundCredit: Ashley Kirk
The festival is taking place outside the historic market town of Oakham in Rutland
The festival is taking place outside the historic market town of Oakham in Rutland

“We are working closely with the organisers and liaising with the authorities to minimise and contain this antisocial activity.

“We regret the disruption that has been caused and apologise to all those affected.”

Supt Adam Slonecki, from Specialist Support at Leicestershire Police, said: “We can confirm we have received information from local residents in Oakham and Rutland in relation to anti-social behaviour in the area.

“This relates to a private event which is a legally authorised event on private land between Light and Life and Rutland Showground. 

“With permission from the organiser, we will be regularly going into the event and continue to engage with the event coordinator to ensure they are covid safe.

‘We would like to reassure residents that we have extra foot patrols, a dedicated roads policing car and a specialist drone team operating in the area. 

“In addition, local officers will be engaging with local businesses and licenced premises.

“We continue to work with the event-goers and organisers to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

“Anyone with any information is to visit https://www.leics.police.uk/ro/report/ quoting reference Log 186 of 19 June 2021 or to call 101.”



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