Further consideration to be given to festival restrictions

lyme regis beach

TOWN councillors will give further consideration to a new events policy which could see major festivals banned in Lyme Regis during the peak season.

The suggestion that major events and festivals should not be held during the school holidays or on Bank Holidays, when the town is already busy, has been put forward by the town council as part of a new events policy which, if given final approval, will be enforced from 2019 onwards.

The policy would apply to all major events and festivals held on town council land, including Marine Parade, with the exception of Lifeboat Week in July, Regatta & Carnival Week in August and the Fossil Festival on the early May Bank Holiday, as councillors said these have always “historically” been held on set dates.

The council’s own Community Week in August 2019 – when it is hoped the Red Arrows will return to Lyme Regis – will also not be affected.

The idea of the policy was to encourage more events to take place out of the peak season, when the town is already very busy.

However, the proposal was met with widespread concern from event organisers and the public, with many taking to social media to voice their objections, saying the council was “out of touch”.

Town councillor Cheryl Reynolds has now requested that Jazz Jurassica – formerly known as the Jazz & Blues Festival – and Lyme Folk Weekend are also excluded from the ban.

Speaking at this week’s meeting, Councillor Reynolds said the jazz festival had been taking place on the late May Bank Holiday for seven years, and the folk festival had been held at the end of the summer holidays for six years, making them “established events” which should be allowed to continue.

Councillor Jeff Scowen, who originally voted against banning events during peak season and himself was hoping to hold a Caribbean Festival in Lyme Regis over August Bank Holiday next year – repeated his previous request not to enforce any restrictions until 2020, as event organisers had already started planning for 2019.

“We started off saying no events in holidays and then we rightly allowed Lifeboat Week and Carnival & Regatta, then eventually the Fossil Festival, and now we’re saying jazz festival and folk festival too. We are coming up with more and more that will be excluded,” he said.

Town clerk John Wright said he would take councillors’ comments on board and would put forward an events policy at the next Tourism, Community & Publicity meeting on Wednesday, August 1, where members could give it further consideration.

Councillor Owen Lovell pointed out that many events could still take place in private venues around the town during holidays, such as gigs for Jazz Jurassica, and the town council could do nothing about this.

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