• Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has welcomed moves to reduce anti-social behaviour during racing at Cheltenham
  • A campaign called ‘Love Our Turf’ is being launched at this Saturday’s November race meeting at Prestbury Park
  • Extra stewards and toilet facilities are being trialled ahead of the National Hunt Festival in March
  • PCC Chris Nelson said, “I am pleased the Jockey Club is listening to the views of residents and is adopting some of the ideas we put forward”.
  • Andre Klein, Cheltenham Racecourse Community Engagement Manager, said: “Additional way finders and stewards, as well as the provision of additional facilities and amenities, should alleviate many of the concerns raised by our local residents”.

New moves to reduce anti-social behaviour, which has alienated communities and marred one of Gloucestershire’s biggest sporting events, have been welcomed by Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The launch of ‘Love Our Turf’ by Cheltenham Racecourse, a new initiative which seeks to reinforce and strengthen the relationship between ‘the home of jump racing’ and the local community, follows talks between the PCC Chris Nelson and Jockey Club representatives earlier in the year.

The annual National Hunt Festival in Cheltenham in March is one of the highlights of the year and a great draw for tourism in Gloucestershire attracting record attendances.

Sadly, it can also lead to unacceptable anti-social behaviour with urinating in gardens, defecating in public parks and the verbal abuse of local residents among the ‘considerable number’ of complaints received by the PCC following this year’s event.

‘Love Our Turf’ follows a meeting in June 2022 involving the PCC, Gloucestershire Constabulary, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham Borough Council and local resident groups in an attempt to find a joined-up approach to the problems faced.

With an expected crowd of around 30,000 racegoers for the November Meeting on Saturday (12 November), Cheltenham Racecourse is promoting positive behaviour from racegoers before, during and after race days. The ‘Love Our Turf’ pilot that day will focus primarily on Evesham Road with the use of wayfinding ushers, enhanced street cleaning with more bins and increased toilet facilities.

At The Festival in March, around 260,000 racegoers will attend over four days and the campaign then will extend to incorporate other recognised paths to and from the racecourse including Albert Road, Tommy Taylors Lane, Paddocks Lane and the end of the Honeybourne Line footpath.

PCC Chris Nelson said, “I am pleased the Jockey Club is listening to the views of residents and sharing responsibility for finding a solution to some of the disgusting events we saw earlier this year.

“Racing at Cheltenham draws in huge crowds and is vital for the local economy, but it must not be to the detriment of those who live nearby who have had to put up with some of the worst excesses of bad behaviour for long enough.

“Thanks to this new partnership, the racecourse will have more stewards and toilet facilities available on race days, alongside teams from Cheltenham Borough Council, which were some of the ideas we put forward during our summit meeting. There is also an adapted policing approach that will be trialled during the Winter meetings ahead of next year’s Festival.

“I appreciate the difficulty in managing people once they have left the racecourse, especially with the numbers involved, but it is also crucial to maintain the goodwill of local residents and I wish the racecourse well.

“I hope everything goes to plan. I have asked my Deputy Nick Evans to observe the policing operation to have a close understanding of the measures being taken and report back to me as I will continue to take a close personal interest in these events until there is a sustainable solution to these issues.”

If all goes well, “Love Our Turf” will eventually enhance the whole journey from the town to the racecourse for those arriving at the track on foot with future provision of street entertainers and selfie locations.

Andre Klein, Cheltenham Racecourse Community Engagement Manager, said:

“We absolutely recognised the feedback from members of our local community and racegoers that there was a need for us to enhance the experience of pedestrians arriving and departing from the racecourse, and we hope that Love Our Turf will go some way to delivering that.

“Additional way finders and stewards, as well as the provision of additional facilities and amenities, should alleviate many of the concerns raised by our local residents

“We are really excited about this new initiative and know we will learn plenty from our experience on Saturday that we can take forward to March, to ensure that the negative impact our events have on the community are massively reduced and just as importantly that our racegoers’ journey are significantly improved.”

Heath Gunter, Chief Executive of Cheltenham BID, said: “It is terrific to see Cheltenham Racecourse take on board the feedback they received from the local community and launch the Love Our Turf campaign”.

Tackling anti-social behaviour is one of the key priorities of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Prevention Plan.