More doubts over Riverside Festival as Stamford Town Council agrees folk music festival on The Meadows for summer 2012

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THE Riverside Festival’s days in Stamford could be numbered after town councillors gave permission for another music festival to be held on the same weekend.

Members of The Riverside Association of Music and Arts say they are “gutted” by the decision to grant The Hobo Festival permission in principle to use The Meadows between June 29 and July 2 next year.

This decision could mean that the Riverside Festival is cancelled for a second year and association directors say they are now considering the event’s future in Stamford.

This year’s event was called off after a row erupted between the association and council in December over a damaged bench and councillors’ desire to see audited accounts.

In March the council deferred making a decision on the festival’s application to use The Meadows until after next week’s council elections but agreed to hold informal meetings with the association. Riverside submitted its application in March. Two weeks ago the council pulled out of the meeting because of an outstanding insurance claim, over a damaged bench, after taking legal advice.

Members of the council’s amenities committee agreed in principle, at their meeting on April 19, to allow the Hobo Festival to use The Meadows to put on a family event with folk music. The agreement was subject to more programme details being available and an appropriate hire fee being negotiated.

The Hobo Festival, which is based in Milton Keynes, is planning a two-day event and will be charging an entry fee of between £3 and £5. The organisers also told the meeting that this would be their first main event.

Riverside director Jenny Collins said the association would meet on May 15 to consider the future, including looking at invitations to move the festival to other towns.

She said: “I think we would probably have to look at the fact that we effectively may have been drummed out of Stamford and look at taking the event somewhere else.

“It is very sad as we are at heart Stamford orientated, that is what we are there for. Unless we can find somewhere else our future in

Stamford looks very limited is all I can say.”

The matter was raised by Riverside director Tony Rawlinson at a full council meeting on Tuesday when he said the amenities committee had refused to hear the Riverside application due to the legal dispute.

He said: “I may be critical but it sounds like a very good excuse to get the council out of trouble.”

Mayor David Brailsford said he could not say more on the matter but said it was best to resolve it as soon as possible.

He said: “It’s only agreed in principle. Riverside is a great festival to have in the town. I wish I could resolve the problem but it’s not within my power.”

So far Riverside has never paid to use The Meadows.

Minutes from the amenities committee meeting reveal the Hobo Festival organisers were willing to pay for the site “but the suggestion of £500 was insufficient”

The minutes also reveal Coun Maureen Jalili (Lib Dem) highlighted the potential clash with Riverside while Coun John Judge (Con) said the request should be given due consideration regardless of any other application.

The Mercury contacted Stamford Town Council but it declined to comment further.