Published: 15:41, 11 November 2020
| Updated: 17:46, 11 November 2020
A promoter of three dance events held before the nation went into lockdown has denied any wrongdoing, as it emerges the council has launched an investigation into coronavirus restrictions being potentially breached.
On October 29, 30 and November 1 three events were held at a field Longton Wood, Detling, organised by event management company The Garden Project.
Footage on social media appears to show coronavirus restrictions may not have been kept to
Before the second lockdown came into force on Thursday, November 5, it was still illegal to meet in groups of more than six across the nation, with other local areas given more stringent restrictions.
But Richard Carrera, promoter of The Garden Project, says they were given permission to hold the events by Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), and their management plan, taking in coronavirus safety measures, was signed off.
However, footage has emerged which appears to show restrictions may not have been adhered to and complaints have also been made to MBC about social distancing, mingling and the events not doing table service.
Mr Carrera said when it looked like people were not dancing in their groups of six the music was stopped and people were asked to sit down and disperse. On Saturday, October 31, the music was stopped for two minutes after groups converged.
This was, he says, in reaction the Government announcing a second lockdown and happened between 7.15 and 7.30pm.
"Unfortunately the videos on social media will be from that day. Throughout the weekend we had 24 police officers turn up and not one of them had a bad thing to say about how it was being run."
"I don't think I have done anything wrong, we worked to government guidance, we adhered to everything in the event management plan."
"Unfortunately in this time people do worry that 300 people might be enjoying themselves.
"We put these events on to help mental health as well. I have had three friends kill themselves due to this coronavirus."
Mr Carrera said The Garden Project raises money for and supports HiS, a men's mental health charity aimed at preventing suicide.
A spokesperson for the landowner said they believed The Garden Project had adhered to the relevant restrictions and they checked the events had all the relevant permissions to go ahead.
Inspector Stephen Kent of Maidstone’s Community Safety Unit said: "Kent Police has been made aware of an event held at a venue in Longton Wood, Detling between 30 October and 1 November 2020, where it is alleged that a number of attendees may have breached the Covid-19 regulations.
"A review of the event is underway with Maidstone Borough Council’s environmental health department."
An MBC spokesman said: "MBC is aware of the footage from the events at Longton Wood, Detling and is actively investigating the incident in partnership with Kent Police.
"Once it has been fully investigated and the evidence has been reviewed in partnership with the Police appropriate enforcement action will take place."
The spokesman added: "The event organisers applied for a temporary event notice. Maidstone Borough Council’s environmental health team along with Kent Police worked with them to plan the events in a Covid secure manner.
"The council is concerned that the actual event was not implemented in accordance with the approved plans."