title="Headley Parish Council in Surrey">

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News  »  Update on last week's tragedy that has affected the Headley Village community

   Update on last week's tragedy that has affected the Headley Village community    1 August, 2016

Firstly, I understand the police presence will continue for some days yet. I have passed on residents’ appreciation of the professional and considerate approach taken by the police and they have commented on the high level of cooperation from residents.

Many people have asked how the party was given a Temporary Events Notice following the complaints about last year’s party. The police and Mole Valley are reviewing this and I have asked to be involved in this review. At this stage it seems that the process does not allow for local consultation and that the complaints the Parish Council relayed last year to the police and to Mole Valley did not influence the decision to grant a licence.  I will report back to the Parish Council the results of this review. In my view we need to make clearer how we balance the rights of people to enjoy themselves and the reasonable expectations of residents not to be unduly disturbed or inconvenienced.

Thirdly, I wanted to comment on the press coverage the event has received. From the outset I have been concerned at the degree of press speculation about the nature of the party and the character of the organisers. The Parish Council has adopted a firm line of refusing to be drawn on these aspects. However Saturday’s press hit a new low with a report headlining that the party organiser had claimed “villagers are all racist”. Several residents told me how upset they are by publicity being given to such claims.  I have written to the paper and have spoken to one of the journalists concerned, making the following points:

  • Earlier in the week the organiser had publicly expressed an apology to residents, which I strongly welcomed. I am very disappointed that the journalists chose not to give this comment equal prominence.  I also expressed concern that the journalists failed to give the community any chance to refute this slur before it was printed. 
  • In my discussions with residents, the primary concern has been for all the people directly affected, but then questioning why the party was given a Temporary Event Notice following complaints after the similar party last year. At no point have I heard any resident express racist comments.
  • The press, however, has included lots of speculative comments about the nature of the event and the character of the organisers.
  • Headley welcomes people of all races and backgrounds many of whom contribute significantly to the well-being of our community.
  •  I asked for similar prominence to be given to setting the record straight as was given to the original article.

These events have impacted many parts of our community including the immediate neighbours, The Cock Inn, which was forced to close for some days, and, of course, the family who have witnessed a horrifying killing carried out in their home. I am confident that all our residents will pull together to help those directly affected and remain the vibrant, friendly community that we all enjoy.

David Preedy

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