Abingdon 4x4 Festival is the Rotary Club of Abingdon’s biggest fundraising event which has raised £110,000 for charities and has been held at Dalton Barracks airfield for the last ten years.
According to the Oxford Mail, it was due to take place on September 24-25, but organiser the Phoenix Land Rover Club said the Defence Estates wanted restrictions. The main beneficiary of the event has been Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust, with more than £50,000 in donations.
In a statement on the event website, the Rotary Club said the Defence Estates were expecting 'substantially increased revenue' and wanted to impose more restrictions, which made the event no longer viable. The statement said, 'The representative of Defence Estates seemed unwilling to take into account that this is a community event to raise money for local charities, which serve the residents of Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, and the wider community of Oxfordshire.'
The event has raised money for charities such as Helen and Douglas House, Against Breast Cancer, the John Radcliffe Hospital, and Down’s Syndrome Oxford. Stevey McAleer, vice chairman of the Phoenix Land Rover Club, said 'Dalton Barracks want more than we are charging at the moment, which leaves nothing for the charities. They put huge restrictions on the off-road course and on the number of vehicles. We will have less people coming and we will have to pay more money out. The Land Rover Club is gutted to say the least.'
A Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) spokesperson has contacted LRO to say that 'It is disappointing to read the repetition of a line from the Rotary Club's statement which says: 'The representative of Defence Estates seemed unwilling to take into account that this is a community event to raise money for local charities, which serve the residents of Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, and the wider community of Oxfordshire.' This is not a fair representation of our position. Our response to other media outlets on this matter - attributable to 'a Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) spokesperson' is set out below.
'The MOD has always made every effort to support Abingdon Rotary Club’s annual car events on the airfield at Dalton Barracks, Abingdon over the last ten years. However, when the organisers submitted their application for this year’s event, it became clear that the event planned was now much larger, including a two-day 4x4 Rally involving 200 cars per day plus various static displays. A live music festival was also planned for the Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday This was an addition to the normal style event which the organisers had not informed us of. In consideration of people living near the airfield, we offered organisers the compromise of allowing music activity on the Saturday evening until 2300. We also informed them of higher charges due to the much greater number of vehicles involved in the 4x4 Festival. We later learned that the Rotary Club had decided to cancel the 2011 event.'
In the interests of accuracy, we should, also, point out that the piece refers to Defence Estates, which has not existed since 1 April this year, when it became part of the wider DIO. Also the piece states that 'Dalton Barracks want more than we are charging at the moment...' This is misleading as military staff at Dalton Barracks are not responsible for event licensing - this is a responsibility which falls to DIO. It also fails to adress a major point, namely that this was a significantly bigger event and, as such, the proposed charges were in keeping with the standard charges for such events, which are regularised country-wide by the MOD.
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