Up to 200 people took part in an illegal countryside rave on the eastern edge of Market Harborough last night (Monday).
They headed for the huge party in fields off Brampton Valley Way from all over the town and beyond.
It was finally broken up by police deep into the night after a host of furious, frightened residents raised the alarm.
But it took over two hours for officers to clear the packed site near the new Blackberry Grange housing estate off Northampton Road late last night.
The rave was today condemned by Harborough council chief Cllr Phil King as he warned it could spark a new Covid-19 Harborough-wide lockdown.
Officers went to the Braybrooke Road area of Market Harborough at about 8.50pm last night “following reports of a large gathering in some fields”, said Leicestershire Police.
“The organisers were spoken to and advised that they were contravening health protection regulations.”
Police said the revellers were dispersed and the site was cleared by about 11pm.
Social media sites in Market Harborough lit up today as angry residents and dog walkers slammed the massive party.
“Be careful with your dogs if you walk in the fields off the Brampton Valley Way.
“Another dog walker has just informed me that there was an illegal rave last night involving about 200 people in one of the fields and there is litter and broken glass everywhere,” said one outraged woman.
Other people complained about the noise and racket made by the milling crowd late into the night.
A stunned local man told the Harborough Mail today as he walked his dog there: “I’ve never seen anything like it.
“I am looking out across the fields here at a scene of sheer devastation – there’s shattered glass everywhere.
“It’s so dangerous.
“I can’t believe that this mob could create such a tip – it’s absolutely horrendous.”
He said they had turned the swathe of picturesque countryside, popular with walkers and runners, into virtually a “no-go zone”.
“Dozens of cans and bottles are scattered all over the fields – it looks like they’d been boozing non-stop all night.
“The idiots have even thrown their rubbish into the hedges, they’ve wrecked the place,” said the local man, who asked not to be named.
“It’s going to take one heck of a clean-up operation to clear this mess away – it could take days.”
Cllr King, who leads Harborough District Council, told the Mail: “This sort of lawless rave-up is simply not acceptable.
“We won’t tolerate it for all sorts of reasons.
“Parents and carers should be doing all they can to stop their children attending these events.”
He said “this sort of activity” risked sparking a new coronavirus spike – and locking down all of Harborough.
“It will only take a small percentage of kids being infected and then going home to mix with their families, friends and colleagues to cause havoc,” insisted Cllr King.
“Do we really want to follow the likes of Leicester, Oadby and Wigston just a few miles up the road and be plunged into a local lockdown for weeks to come?
“The impact socially and on our local economy would be devastating.
“We are just starting to get back on our feet.
“The last thing we need is for Harborough to get hauled back into a ‘whack a mole’ lockdown as we are beginning to recover.
“Thousands of people are having to be tested for Covid-19 in Melton and that’s a more rural area than Harborough.
“So we are not safe here – this virus is still very much a real and continuing threat.
“Young people should also remember that they are at a much greater risk of drink and drugs and being exploited and taken advantage of by bad people at these illegal raves.
“These are dangerous events.
“And they are also extremely anti-social with loud noise and incredible amounts of rubbish and litter being strewn about,” said the Conservative council boss.
“So I am urging anyone who has any information about similar raves being set up here to contact and alert the police as soon as possible.
“You can do it anonymously through Crimestoppers.
“It’s critically imperative that we stop any more of these events going ahead in Harborough for all of our sakes.”