A CLASH of dates for events on Marine Parade threatened to cause the cancellation of a popular Lyme Regis festival – and angered local traders.
Julie Sheppard, organiser of Jazz Jurassica, scheduled for the Bank Holiday weekend of May 24 to 28, said she was “stunned” when she read online that Lyme Regis Town Council had given permission for the Dorset Street Food festival to be staged on the seafront at the same time.
Mrs Sheppard booked Marine Parade with the town council for the jazz festival in August last year. She told LymeOnline: “We rely on modest amounts of trader income to fund our events. We feared the outside food traders they’d bring in would undermine that revenue forcing us to cancel the free festival.
“As we’re not linked to Dorset Street Food Festival in any way or responsible for inviting them to the town, we felt the council should look to reduce the financial risk we now faced.
“The council has agreed to relocate the food festival elsewhere on the seafront and to compensate us for any subsequent loss of income.
“We’re massively relieved – and can confirm that the free jazz festival will go ahead on Marine Parade as planned.”
The Dorset Street Food Festival is organised by a Welsh-based company who stage similar events in Wales, Devon and Sussex.
In a press release sent to LymeOnline, the Street Food Warehouse said they were “rolling into Lyme Regis for a Bank Holiday weekend of fantastic food and delicious drinks”. They described it as “a free and family event”.
When Mrs Sheppard heard about the competing festival she contacted the town council immediately and a meeting was set up with deputy town clerk Mark Green and tourism committee chairman Cllr Cheryl Reynolds.
A compromise agreement was reached whereby the Dorset Street Food Festival stalls would be sited on top of the Marine Parade shelters whilst the jazz festival traders would be confined to the main seafront.
Mrs Sheppard feared that some of her traders would pull out if they realised another event was taking place at the same time and the council agreed to compensate her for any loss of revenue if that was the case.
In a statement issued before that meeting, deputy town clerk Mark Green said: “Officers have indicated their support for the principle of a street food festival in Lyme Regis.
“A meeting will be organised between the already permitted Lyme Regis Jazz Festival and Dorset Street Food Festival to determine how the two events might take place side by side.”
Traders angry over prime sites going to outsiders
When they heard about the clash a number of traders took to Facebook to express their concern.
Matt Yaxley, who runs a food kiosk at the Cobb, commented: “From a local traders’ point of view, and one who is losing business from no park and ride, no ATM machines and super-expensive parking charges, I think another food festival is a terrible idea. We lose a lot of business each time there is one.
“Why are they bringing in a Welsh food festival on a weekend local businesses should be making money?”
A former Lyme trader, Christine Wadley, said: “We found that anything going on on Marine Parade took trade away from the shops in town, sometimes with a massive impact. You don’t get that day back. Only festival traders win.”
Alethea McLoughlin commented: “I love all the events coming to Lyme but it does affect people in the town. As long as local businesses in the town are given the opportunity to bid for the pitch, then it is fair game but that does not happen.”
Mrs Sheppard also expressed concern about the temporary toilets to provide facilities whilst the town council carry out improvements to the existing loos on the seafront, occupying such a prominent seafront position. But she accepted the council’s response that it was only place they could be sited that could be connected to the main sewerage.