POLICE should intervene more swiftly and decisively if illegal raves were not to become a regular feature on Exmoor, MP Ian Liddell-Grainger warned.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said the response to an Easter event on land near Luxborough had been too little too late, leaving local people to suffer hours of disruption and landowners with the task of clearing up huge amounts of rubbish dumped in fields and roadsides.

Thousands of people descended on the site, obstructing the B3224 with hundreds of parked vehicles.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said the modest police presence had been ‘lamentably weak’.

He said: “I cannot helping thinking that had a similar event been staged on the outskirts of Bristol the police would have gone in mob-handed and closed the whole thing down.

“This incident illustrates how vulnerable rural districts are to law-breaking activities as a result of police cover having been deliberately run down in the countryside for decades.

“Standing by as local people’s lives are disrupted and laws flouted is not acceptable.

“We have to get the message out that events of this type will not be tolerated, or else we run the risk of the word getting out that Exmoor is an ideal place to stage them, at which point they could start popping up every weekend.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger said the site near Luxborough had previously seen a number of raves and needed to be far more effectively secured, while farmers and landowners should be ready to call police at the first signs of illegal gatherings.