Rebel rollers are ready to chase the cheese down Coopers Hill after police warned off a grandmother from supplying them with a Double Gloucester.“I am not sure what we are going to chase, but we will be there,” said one, who did not wish to be named. “It's just really important that a cheese is rolled.”The centuries-old tradition is set to go ahead, “unofficially” on Bank Holiday Monday, after Diana Smart hit national headlines.As The Citizen revealed this week, she was told by police she could be liable for any damages arising from the event if she supplied a cheese as she had since 1988.The story was picked up by national newspapers, TV and radio, and prompted outrage from many who believed the police were wrong to approach her.Today, Gloucestershire Constabulary insisted they didn't “ban” Mrs Smart from supplying a cheese, but an officer told her and son Rod that in the absence of a recognised organiser, anyone who facilitates the event could be deemed to be an organiser by default and attract legal liability issues that come with hosting the cheese rolling. It's unlikely to become an organised event again unless a big money backer steps forward with £250,000.
The Citizen revealed yesterday that Gloucestershire police had warned cheesemaking grandmother Diana Smart not to sell a round of cheese to the "unofficial" event. Now one of the former organisers has explained that the finances of putting on an organised event just don't stack up.
Rob Seex, who set the cheese rolling down the famous 200 yard hill from 1990 until 2009, won't be there on Bank Holiday Monday.
"When I started, the car park cost £1 a car and we needed 300 to 400 cars to pay for the event," he said. "When I finished we charged £5 a car and we needed 1,400 to 1,500 in the car park. It was the unofficial publicity that nobbled it. There's room for about 2,000 on the hill and the police told us there were about 14,000 there.
"We were told that it could queue back to the motorway and we could be liable for it. The costs of setting it up were about £250,000, which we couldn't do."
Since 2010, cheese rollers have held so-called "unofficial" chases down the hill on the late Spring Bank Holiday to continue the tradition which is documented to the early 1800s – but probably went on well before then.
There is no official medical cover but those taking part say it's up to the individual whether they want to chase the cheese. One of those intending to run said she understood why the organisers withdrew three years ago.
"But how can the police stop someone selling cheese and someone else running after it?
"No-one is forcing anyone to do it."
A police statement issued today said: "Following national news coverage and concerns from the public regarding an unofficial cheese rolling event in Gloucestershire we feel it is important to address inaccuracies and the key issues that the public have raised. "Several months ago one police officer visited the son and mother who in the past have produced the cheese for both official and unofficial cheese rolling events. "The purpose of this visit was to advise them that, in the absence of a recognised organiser, anyone that facilitates the event could be deemed to be an organiser by default. In this case that person could then attract the legal liability issues that come with hosting the cheese rolling. "We felt, and still feel, that it is important that those who, by law, could be constituted as organisers of the event are aware of the responsibilities that come with it so that they can make an informed decision about their participation."The same information was given to others who could be deemed as ‘organisers’. "Those that were visited by the officer thanked him for his time and the advice. In February they were also sent a letter confirming the information that had been given and encouraging them to contact the officer if they had any questions or queries. "No one has been “banned” from making or providing the cheese."