Crowd of students defies rule of six in Nottingham park before ‘brawl’ breaks out

30 March 2021, 12:59 | Updated: 30 March 2021, 15:33

By Will Taylor

Shocking footage has emerged of a large crowd of unruly students ignoring the rule of six on the day England's lockdown eased, shortly before a brawl broke out.

Clashes broke out after hundreds of students gathered in the Arboretum in Nottingham, on Monday to enjoy drinks in the sunshine.

Multiple groups of more than six people gathered in the park as rules were eased, despite government and police warnings to maintain social distancing.

As of yesterday six people, or two full households, are allowed to meet outside including in back gardens.

In raucous scenes in the park, fights broke out and people were seen spraying drinks in the air.

“The sun’s out, everyone’s feeling happy again, that’s what’s important,” one said.

“You feel good, you see people around, you see friends that you know,” another added.

A clean up operation is under way today after bins were left overflowing and rubbish was strewn across the open space.

Residents have been left disgusted by the scenes.

Natalia, 31, and her daughter Amelia, 11, who live near the Arboretum, walk through the park to go to school.

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Natalia told the Nottingham Post: “This is every morning, and they are not doing anything to stop it.

“Girls and boys peeing in the bushes, empty bottles thrown everywhere.

“There’s alcohol, there’s fighting, it’s horrible.”

The Arboretum Residents' Association said: “I feel sorry for the police but they were not dispersing them. There was a sea of people - you could smell the cannabis in the street and the noise was horrendous.

"It is not a park anymore it is a playground for students. We can't face this the whole summer."

A dispersal order has been put in place. Nottingham City Council has called for everyone to take personal responsibility for sticking to rules as they are eased.

Councillor David Mellen said a selfish minority had abused the easing of restrictions, adding: "We have all made sacrifices over the last year to keep each other safe.

"Over 600 local people have died due to the virus.

"We owe it to their families, to each other and to frontline workers not to jeopardise the strides we have made towards reducing the spread of Covid by acting so thoughtlessly and recklessly.

"The road map is a cautious way out of this terrible situation and we all need to abide strictly to its rules.

"They currently allow up to six people or two households to meet outside but other necessary precautions such as social distancing remain in place."

Alcohol will be seized from people entering parks from Tuesday, Mr Mellen said, amid an increased police presence.

Nottinghamshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cooper said: "While we can of course understand people's desire to want to be out in the sun and enjoying these mild temperatures we are currently experiencing, the Government and our health colleagues remain extremely cautious and advise that people continue to minimise social contact.

"We would like to remind people that we are still only partly out of lockdown measures.

"This week has seen the easing of some of the restrictions but we are still required to keep our distance from each other and only mix with one other household outdoors, up to six people.

"We are aware of a number of residents choosing to be out in the Arboretum.

"The behaviour yesterday was unacceptable and we are disappointed people decided to behave in this selfish way.

"That is why we have now taken the decision to put a dispersal order in place.

"Our officers will continue to engage with people to ensure they are still sticking to the rules.

"It is up to us all to keep to the measures so we can continue on the road map out of lockdown, by keeping the virus at bay."