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Wedding venue hit with £10,000 fine and ordered to close after Covid-19 regulations breach

30 Sep 2020

A venue which hosted a wedding attended by more than 100 people has been hit with a £10,000 fine and ordered to close.

Police officers were called to the event on Wednesday evening (23 September) at the Grand Park Hall in Park Street, Luton.

They found more than 100 people in attendance at the wedding, well in breach of the limit of 30 people for such events under the coronavirus regulations at the time.

As of this week, this limit has been reduced to 15 people. It is an offence for businesses to cater for groups of more than six, other than for a sit down wedding meal for a maximum of 15 people.

Police were able to bring the event to a close, and later issued a dispersal order to reduce crowds that remained in the town.

On Friday (25 September) Luton Council issued a direction notice on the premises ordering it to close.

Council officers have served the notice to prevent the venue from reopening until they are satisfied that it can, and will, do so safely

Having reviewed the evidence, yesterday (Tuesday) we also issued a £10,000 fixed penalty notice to the venue’s manager who was on duty during the event. He will subsequently be fined £10,000.

Chief Superintendent John Murphy, leading our response to coronavirus, said: “We appreciate these are difficult times, and that people getting married will want to celebrate with friends and loved ones – however, we are in the middle of a pandemic so it is imperative that people follow the rules which are there to help stop the spread of the virus and to keep everybody safe.

“This case was a flagrant disregard of the rules and risked undoing all of the good work that is being done by the majority of people. It also showed a lack of respect for all those who have postponed wedding celebrations or have stuck to smaller numbers.

“Our approach has always been to engage with people to explain the rules. We don’t take enforcement action lightly, however, attending officers repeatedly asked this venue to close down and remove attendees immediately. When they failed to do so we were left with little choice but to proceed with taking firmer action.

“I’d like to thank all of those people who have been sticking to the rules. It is such a difficult time for all of us, but if we all do our bit hopefully we will continue to protect the NHS and keep our loved ones safe.”

Cllr Jacqui Burnett, portfolio holder in charge of enforcement in Luton, said: “This was a shocking and dangerous breach of the Covid-19 restrictions at a time where we are seeing a concerning rise in cases both nationally and locally.

“Having such a large number of people gathered for an event of this nature has not only put the people who attended the event and their friends and family at risk, but is also a slap in the face to the large majority of businesses and premises across the town who have worked so hard and sacrificed a lot to make their venues Covid-compliant and safe for their customers.

“I would like to thank the police and council officers for managing the situation effectively and closing down the event in a timely manner. I’m fully supportive of the punishments which have been handed out given the threat that the event had on public health. We are prepared to use the powers we have to protect and save the lives of every Luton resident.”

If you have concerns about a breach of the coronavirus regulations, you can contact Bedfordshire Police through the force’s website.

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