Covid: Christian group fined £10k for Bulwell car park meet

Image caption,
Police said the car park was "evidently not a place of worship"

Police have handed a £10,000 fine to the organiser of a church meet-up in a pub car park.

Officers from Nottinghamshire Police said the Church on the Streets service, involving about 30 people in Bardney Drive, Bulwell, Nottingham, broke lockdown rules.

They said when officers arrived, at about 12:15 GMT on Saturday, there were tents, food and a sound system.

But the church's pastor, Chez Weir, has said she will contest the fine.

'Last resort'

Insp James Walker, from the force, said they had been advising the group for a number of weeks about how and where they could worship during lockdown.

"Over the last week in particular, we have absolutely clarified these events are not allowed," he said.

"Whilst the rules state you can attend places of worship, this car park is evidently not a place of worship.

"Despite the warnings given over the last week in particular, this event continued to go ahead and that is why we have implemented our last resort of enforcement."

Image source, Kimiya Ganji
Image caption,
The pastor said those attending the gathering stayed in their cars

The pastor said those attending Church on the Streets gatherings stayed in their cars and the food, tents and sound system were all part of the service.

She said she had worked with the police throughout and had recently been advised against using a different car park for worship but did not realise the restriction also applied to the pub car park.

"We've looked at the guidelines and they are very vague," she said.

"I'm really disappointed. I'm going to challenge it because I don't believe I've done anything wrong."

People are allowed to gather at places of worship under current lockdown rules.

Government guidance states a place of worship can be somewhere used for religious gatherings, even sites usually used for other things.

But it adds they must be permitted to be open during lockdown and "additional guidance may be applicable".

It also recommends that, where possible, places of worship continue to stream worship or other events to avoid large gatherings.

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