A successful collaboration between the council and police has helped Cheltenham racecourse secure a ban of selling and buying tickets by touts on racecourse property, making it safer for racegoers.
The new restrictions will make it an offence for any person to sell, expose, make available or advertise any tickets for sale other than through official channels and could result in prison sentences of up to two years for those who do not adhere to the new ruling.
Whilst ticket touts during horse racing events are not a new phenomenon, the increased popularity of horseracing events in Cheltenham has seen an increase in touting activity that has become more competitive which in turn has caused touts to become bolder and aggressive in their approach to ensure they are able to sell their tickets before the end of the festival to mitigate financial loss.
Cheltenham Borough Council adopted a Public Spaces Protection Order banning ticket touts from operating in much of the town centre, the roads leading up to the racecourse, the area around the train station and the public areas on the racecourse. The effect of the Order was that any person found to be in breach of it would be guilty of an offence and could be issued with either a £80 fine or be reported for an offence.
Officers from the council with support from police officers worked to enforce the Order in March. The adoption of the Order and the outcome of the enforcement action supported the racecourse case for getting an injunction granted.
Superintendent Paul Dutton of Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “The relationship between Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham Borough Council, Gloucestershire Constabulary and additional partners is strong, I am personally delighted with this ruling which will assist us all in our joint goal of supporting the safe and enjoyable delivery of major sporting events at Cheltenham racecourse.”
Ian Renton, regional director of Cheltenham and south west region of The Jockey Club said: “We welcome the judgment of Mr Justice Nugee at the High Court when an injunction was granted against ticket touting at Cheltenham Racecourse.
“This prohibits the selling and buying of tickets by touts on racecourse property and we welcome this landmark decision. It is the first time any such injunction has been granted to prevent touting at a racecourse. It took effect from The Showcase meeting and will remain in place for the whole season. We are grateful for the full support of Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucestershire Police in seeking this injunction.
“This is the next step in seeking to reduce, and where possible eliminate, the unpleasant and often criminal activities of touts that undermine the enjoyment of our racegoers.”
Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety said: “We welcome this judgment and landmark ruling.
“The Cheltenham Races are important events for Cheltenham but can be challenging for the council and its partners to manage effectively. We hope that this new ruling along with the increased restrictions which were put into place last March, that the races become even more safe and well managed for both our residents and visitors.”
The new ruling took immediate effect, will last until June 2019 and is part of a wider plan to continue to improve the effectiveness of the management of the racing season to ensure that it remains a safe, well managed and enjoyable season for residents and visitors.