Fate of Clitheroe three-day music festival in doubt

A new music festival in Clitheroe Castle grounds? (s)
A new music festival in Clitheroe Castle grounds? (s)
  • 3,000 tickets for the festival already sold
  • Top names - including Simply Red, Gabrielle and Jools Holland - lined up
  • Residents slam ‘lack of transparency’ from organisers
  • Fears over parking, noise pollution and anti-social behaviour
  • Organisers pledge to find alternative location if knocked back
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Doubt has been cast over the fate of a three-day music festival that was set to take place in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle this summer.

Organisers of the Summer Days Festival, which is due to take place on Wednesday, July 6th, Friday, July 8th and Saturday, July 9th, will find out in the next few days if their application for a licence for the event has been granted.

Simply Red

Simply Red

Around 3,000 tickets for the festival have already been sold with music lovers eager to watch headline acts such as Simply Red, Gabrielle and The Christians, who have been confirmed for the Wednesday, as well as Jools Holland and Caro Emerald for the Friday.

However, during a meeting of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s licensing committee on Friday some of around a dozen residents, who live close to Clitheroe Castle, asked why tickets had been sold for an event which had not been granted a licence.

“The licence should have been got first before the tickets went on sale. Tickets have been on sale for some time,” said resident Mr Fintan O’Reilly who added that this sort of event was not suitable for a park in the centre of Clitheroe.

He and other residents complained about a lack of transparency from the festival’s organisers who had staged an information evening earlier this month at The Atrium Cafe at Clitheroe Castle, but, according to residents, had failed to allude to their plans to apply for a premises licence to stage up to eight more three-day events per year, on top of the Summer Days Festival, in the castle grounds.

The licence should have been got first before the tickets went on sale. Tickets have been on sale for some time

Neighbour

Some of these larger category “A” events could potentially attract an audience of 14,999 people - while the smaller category “B” events could cater for an audience of up to 9,999 people.

Mr O’Reilly said he had believed this was an application for a one-off event, which, he added, is being sold as a “Sunday picnic”-style event.

He said that the “sands had shifted” throughout the hearing adding: “We haven’t even been told who is coming to play on the Saturday yet! Is it The Who?”.

Meanwhile, resident Mr Robert Wilson, who was at the meeting with his partner Mrs Lillian Walmsley, said he was “horrified” to hear that the festival’s organisers are intending to stage other events in the castle grounds.

Jools Holland

Jools Holland

Other residents living on Wesleyan Row, Bawdlands, and Eshton Terrace went on to cite their concerns about problems with parking, noise pollution and anti-social behaviour that could materialise off the back of such events.

Resident Catherine Webster, said: “There will be a huge impact on local parking, many of us park on the streets due to the format of the houses and with the large amount of extra cars, residents will lose their parking spaces.”

However, Jon Drape, production director of the festival, was keen to talk about the benefits such events could bring to Clitheroe.

“The festival is going to bring into Clitheroe a conservative estimate of £1m.

“This will go through hotels, cafes and B&Bs and we want the festival to be an annual event to help put Clitheroe culturally on the map.”

He also tried to reassure residents that a great deal of work had already been done to ensure the event has the least amount of impact on the local community. Mr Drape said at least three months’ notice would be given to residents, the local authority and the Event Safety Advisory Group before any event was staged.

However, the borough council’s health and safety advisor Phil Dodd said he objected to a proposed event capacity of 14,999 as there would be insufficient areas of relative safety in an emergency requiring the evacuation of the castle field. He added that a capacity of around 10,000 was more feasible.

The hearing was chaired by Coun. Jan Alcock and attended by Coun. Joyce Holgate and Coun. Paul Elms, who after considering all the representations will decide if the premises licence application made by Summer Days Live Ltd should be granted.

Speaking after the meeting one of the festival’s organisers, John Tyrrell, said if they are denied a licence they will look at staging the festival in an alternative location.