No action taken against Darts Farm after investigation

Attending a football match or a vigil on Clapham Common, different kettles of fishes? – Owl

Remember:

An investigation into a controversial outdoor carol service held at Darts Farm has resulted in no action being taken.

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

Concerns and criticisms were raised on social media after images shared of the event on December 16, 2020, appeared to show significant numbers of people apparently not socially distancing or wearing face coverings.

The carol service was held on the grounds of Darts Farm, in Topsham, and police say it received no calls prompting officers to investigate on the night.

Following the event, East Devon District Council announced they were looking into the ‘planning and control measures’ to work out if rules were broken.

A screen shot of the outdoor Christmas carol evening at Darts Farm

However, Darts Farm insisted it had followed the suggestions from the Government’s ‘Covid-19: suggested principles of safer singing’ guidelines.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: “The East Devon District Council legal team have concluded that the actual event, being a gathering, was the responsibility of the police to make any decisions on enforcement of the situation.

“The council have contacted the business to require information under the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 on the risk assessments for the event, and the company provided information sufficient to satisfy us that further action was not appropriate under our enforcement policy.”

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We are aware of an event that was held within the grounds of Darts Farm on December 16 2020.

“As this related to an event at a business premises this was left in the hands of the relevant local authority to investigate.

“This matter was not reported to police at the time and therefore officers did not attend the location while this incident was taking place.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have only issued fines when supported by evidence captured at the scene by our officers, therefore no retrospective action is being considered in relation to Darts Farm in relation to this event.”

Darts Farm is a nationally award-winning farm and food-hub located on the outskirts of Exeter.

Following its carol event last year, a spokesperson for the farm said: “With unlimited outdoor space and using closed off car parking, everyone was able to social distance and stand where they wanted. You could say that it was more organised than most busy high streets on a Saturday.

“The actual programme for the evening, including all of the carols, was on our website so that everyone could follow and sing using their phones – reducing any contact with no one gathered around a screen with projected words.

“From all those that attended, we have had nothing but positive feedback and interestingly the only criticism has come from those that didn’t actually attend the evening.

“The comments we have received include, ‘really moving hearing people singing together again even at a distance’, and ‘a big thank you for the organised carol service this evening. You do not know how much we needed that. God bless and merry Christmas’.

“It was brilliant to be able to see our local community come together in festive spirits in what has been a very challenging year. Outdoor carol singing is something that has been encouraged by the government in their recent guidance to help lift our spirits this Christmas.”

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