Cambridge’s 2010 Strawberry Fair has been cancelled. The annual event, usually held in the first week of June, is a free music and arts festival that has attracted more than 20,000 visitors in the past.

However, the Strawberry Fair Committee has felt it necessary to cancel this year’s event due to a prolonged period of conflict with the police. The Cambridge Police Force had previously tried to prevent the Committee from gaining a licence for this year’s Fair. When such a licence was granted by the Cambridge City Council, the police decided to launch an appeal.

Because of this, the Strawberry Fair Committee felt that they could not be certain of the success of this year’s event. In a statement referring to the shock cancellation, Justin Argent, chair of the Strawberry Fair Committee, said, “The police appeal of the decision made by Cambridge City Council means that we now have to put all our efforts into fighting that appeal, rather than into the detailed preparations for the 2010 Fair.”

He added that, “The timetable for the appeal means that we will not know whether the Fair can go ahead as planned until far too late in the day. We do not want to pass this risk on to the many supportive suppliers, traders, and artists whose livelihoods would be severely damaged by a last minute cancellation.”

Cambridge Police Force’s decision to appeal the Council’s ruling has disappointed many prominent members of the city’s community. Cambridge MP David Howarth remarked that the decision as to whether the event should go ahead “should be left to elected councillors not unelected police”.

Jennifer Liddle, chairmen of the City Council’s Licensing Committee deemed it “a great shame that an unelected and unaccountable police force decided to ignore the decision and lodge an appeal”. Argent further demonstrated his disappointment, lamenting that the police’s decision showed “just how far out of step they are with the people of Cambridge”.

However the Police maintain that they do not want the event to be banned. Claiming to be shocked by the Committee’s decision, Chief Superintendent Rob Needle commented that “the police are not against the event itself and never have been”.

However, they maintain that the event attracts excessive drinking, drug taking and anti-social behaviour. There were 400 prosecutions altogether after last year’s Fair, and the policing of the event cost the public a staggering £83,000 in Officer’s salaries.

According to supporters of the event, however, the situation has been consistently improving. Julie Smith, of Cambridge City Council claimed that “the fair ran more smoothly last year thanks to the hard work of the Strawberry Committee, council, police, and local residents”.