Riverside Festival cancelled

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NEXT year’s Riverside Festival in Stamford has been cancelled.

Organisers of the music festival, which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary, took the decision to call off the event at a meeting on Sunday.

They say they were unable to reach agreement with Stamford Town Council over whether the festival would be allowed to use The Meadows in Stamford, which the council owns and where the event is usually held.

The Riverside Association said there now wasn’t enough time to organise such a big event or look for an alternative venue.

Plans for a fringe festival, green festival and arts workshops next year in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics had secured £20,000 of funding but they too have now been cancelled.

Riverside director Jenny Collins said the team was “immeasurably dis-appointed” but was already looking for an alternative venue so the event could be staged in 2012.

She said: “I just feel so sorry for the people who attend the festival because this event was going to be a great opportunity to get involved in the Olympics celebrations.

“It had taken us 10 years to build the event up to what it was and it’s heartbreaking that we have now got to start again from scratch.”

Tony Rawlinson, another director, said: “The town council’s decisions have made it impossible for us to continue to stage the music festival on The Meadows and there is simply insufficient time to try to locate a suitable alternative site, carry out the necessary risk assessments, health and safety checks, apply for the relevant licences for the new venue and then market the venue.”

The town council had requested verified audited accounts from the association before it would allow the event to be staged next summer on The Meadows. In previous years it had sought accounts only in relation to grant applications.

The council would also not say whether it would allow the Riverside to charge an admission fee.

Riverside directors told the Mercury they believed the request for verified accounts was unreasonable. They say it went against the association’s charitable objectives because there was a £2,500 fee involved in getting the accounts audited.

The association said the council had also refused to schedule a meeting with it, despite requests in writing and at council meetings.

Mayor of Stamford David Brailsford said on behalf of Stamford Town Council: “I am disappointed by the decision of the organisers but until we receive official confirmation we can’t comment further at this stage.”

Members of Bourne Round Table, which run the beer festival at the event, said cancelling it will leave a dent in their fundraising efforts.

Vice-chairman Neil Bothwell said the event could raise £30,000 on a good weekend, which is split between the organisers and the round table.

He said: “It could have a knock on effect in the future especially if someone comes along asking for a large donation - we may not be able to accommodate that from our coffers.

“I think it is very sad for the area. The event is hugely popular, not just for the people of Stamford, I know people travel from quite a large area.”

This year the festival was held over two days to celebrate its 10th anniversary and attracted more than 15,000 people. Organisers say it brought in £1.7m to the local economy.

Following the event Martin Smith, who had been the driving force behind the event, stepped down as chairman.

Mr Smith said: “I think it’s a great shame because it was one of the most popular events in Stamford and after stepping down, I was looking forward to going along with my family to actually enjoy the event.

“I think a lot of people will be very shocked and disappointed.”

Riverside Festival is the last event in Stamford Festival’s week-long programme events.

Chairman of Stamford Festival’s board of directors Carol Harkness said: “It must have been a very hard decision for the organisers to take but it is disappointing. It was a great finale to Stamford Festival.”