Back in 2010 I was contacted by a local Allerdale councillor as a result of regular complaints from market traders about the behaviour of Bob Graham attempt supporters in and around the Moot Hall. There was particular concern about obstruction of the traders and some poor verbal reactions from people when asked to clear access ways and allow traders with licences to trade and their customers to go about their lawful business.
Shortly after that, revisions were made to the Club’s Guidance Notes to include the following new language:
Please remember that attempting, pacing or supporting a Bob Graham attempt does not put you in any special position. Please ensure that you respect the National Park and the people who live and work in it.
Contenders who finish a round in Keswick on Saturday afternoon or early evening may encounter the Keswick market either in action or packing away for the day. Please ensure that you and your supporters behave in a way that allows the market traders and their actual or potential customers to gain access to their stalls. Completion celebrations away from the immediate area of the Moot Hall to avoid any conflict with the market are a good and sensible idea.
The Club’s hope was that this advice, based in simple good manners, would help reduce the building level of friction between support parties and the market traders in particular.
On Sunday (24 May) I received a formal complaint from a market stall holder. The complaint is measured in its language and clearly arises from a chain of incidents over a number of years. The complaint refers to ongoing access issues but also mentions the consumption, and spraying, of alcohol in celebration of a successful round (whether on the 23 May or not isn’t absolutely clear), and draws attention to the fact that the Moot Hall is subject to the local restrictions that prevent the consumption of alcohol in Keswick’s streets. The complainant takes exception to his stall being sprayed with champagne or similar, something that happens, in his words, regularly.
I can make no comment on the events of 23 May because I was not at the Moot Hall. But it is evident that tempers are again fraying.
One man’s reasonable behaviour is of course another man’s problem, depending on where you are standing. The drinking ban was introduced to allow the authorities to act “if problems are being caused”. Whatever the view about the reasonableness or otherwise of post-Round celebrations, from the perspective of someone who has every right to go about his business in and around the Moot Hall, there are “problems”.
The current complainant has been sufficiently moved by events to have drawn the breach of the drinking law in this context to the attention of the local police. I have no idea if they are interested or will want to take any action, but from here on, supporters at the Moot Hall who choose to ignore the local rule about no street drinking, are “on risk”.
Bob and I will be updating the Guidance Notes to add some words about the drinking ban. It’s possible that many non-locals will be unaware of this local law. The suggestion about taking celebrations of a successful Round away from the vicinity of the Moot Hall will remain for obvious reasons.
The Club would appreciate help from contenders and their supporters in maintaining good relations with the local people who live and work in and around the route of the Round.