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Cheese rolling festival cancelled

A cheese rolling festival which saw hundreds of people career down a steep slope in pursuit of a round of Double Gloucester has been cancelled for the second year running after organisers received "threats and abuse".

The group behind the event at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire said they had been subjected to behaviour including being spat at in the street since they decided to charge people £20 to enter.

The last cheese rolling, in 2009, saw 15,000 people attend to watch the event at a venue designed to cope with just 5,000. It led to last year's event being cancelled over health and safety and traffic congestion fears.

Cheese rolling committee spokesman Richard Jefferies said despite the fact that much of the planned £20 fee would have been spent on the running costs, the public reaction had been "horrific".

"Since we announced an entry fee, we have been bombarded with so much hostility and criticism, much of it at a personal level, including accusations of profiteering and some of the committee have even received threats," he said.

"People have been spat at in the street, received verbal abuse in shops and at school gates and there has even been talk of bricks through windows and houses being burned down.

"We have also endured a torrent of online criticism and abuse from cowards who failed to identify themselves by hiding behind false identities. We find these insults, accusations and threats hurtful, frightening and totally unjustified."

He added that it was too early to say whether the event might be held in 2012.

The event, usually held in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, on the spring bank holiday at the end of May, is known for causing injuries to those taking part, with sprains and broken bones common.

The event had been turned into a two-day festival on June 11 and 12 this year. A total of 5,000 tickets were available for each day, with those for children aged five to 13 costing £15 and under-fives going free.

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