Concerns raised over Oktoberfest's proposed return to the Isle of Dogs

By Rob Virtue on February 7, 2014 6:41 AM |

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Beer is to blame for waterlogged sports pitches on the Isle of Dogs, it's been claimed.

A German-themed festival, which took place last year and wants to return in 2014, is accused of causing drainage problems, leading to the cancellation of a host of sporting fixtures.

Tower Hamlets licensing committee is due to rule in the coming weeks on whether the Oktoberfest event can return to Millwall Park.

But residents complain last year's event has turned the site into a bog and have also cited problems over security.

Glen McCarty, of East Ferry Road, which backs on to the park, has launched a website in opposition to the plans. He said he wasn't against Oktoberfest in principle but the damage caused meant he wanted more assurances from organisers.

"Last year they made promises about clearing up any vandalism and putting on security," said Mr McCarty.

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"What we were left with was drainage problems caused by steel erections that have made the park a muddy bog."

He said security was inadequate, which meant police and council officials had to pick up the slack.

He said: "Now the event is going to be bigger so the problems will be worse."

The council has asked for comments to be considered at February 18's meeting.

Mr McCarty said: "If [the organisers] can leave guarantees with a bond looked after by the council then perhaps the objections will melt away.

"It's not a cultural festival, it's beer drinking and when you get hundreds of people drinking strong beer there are problems that need to be dealt with."

Millwall Rugby Club is one of those groups affected by the pitch problems.

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This weekend all of its games were called off due to the state of the pitch. Experts from the Rugby Football Union visited last week and said the top of the pitch would have to be re-laid.

Millwall director Graham Hargreaves said: "We're not against beer festivals - we go as a club to one every year - but last year the tent spikes went through the drainage systems and the rain has caused major issues."

In response, Carsten Raun, director of London Oktoberfest Ltd, said: "Last year went well and we had a wonderful event. However, the first year is always a learning year and now we want to talk to the locals and make the necessary adjustments."

Mr Raun denied the tents had damaged the drainage system as they were based off of the pitches. He said the bond he submitted was refunded as the council said there was no damage.

Go to millwallpark.org.

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