We would like to make a brief statement, following some recent negative articles about the festival in the local press.
Any impression that has been given that we may be irresponsible or poorly organised is completely erroneous.
We produce a full and detailed event management plan and a site plan which are discussed, advised upon and submitted to Ashford Borough Council well in advance of the event. We are not ‘self-policed’. There is a huge amount of advice, care and planning that goes into the event, which both ABC and Tenterden Town Council are kept fully informed of.
The main issue of contention seems to be our ‘late finishing’.
Our licence to play live music allows us to play until 11pm each night. However, as a family festival, and out of respect for the heavily residential area that the festival takes place in we have always ensured a quiet and closed site well before that time.
We do advertise our planned finishing times, but as an event with multiple live acts it is often difficult to keep exactly to those times. However, the times stated by certain complainants of 45 minutes over (Friday) and 75 minutes (Saturday) are not accurate at all. We closed our Main Stage at 10.30pm on Friday instead of the advertised 10pm, and 9.30pm on Saturday – also just 30 mins over. At a meeting at the Town Hall the ‘advertised’ times shown to us by Cllr Isworth were for the Umbrella stage (2nd stage) not the Main Stage. The Umbrella Stage is an enclosed area where sound is much, much lower than the Main Stage, and was still completely quiet by 10.35pm.
We could advertise finishing times of 11pm to avoid upsetting those that would like us to adhere to advertised end times, but that will lead to complaints from festival goers that we are finishing early. We are already asked every year to extend our hours on Friday and Saturday to a later time, more suitable to a weekend event. We currently have no plans to do so. In order to appease the hyper-local neighbours to the site we will be stopping our wind-down music, played after bands have finished and as people leave, in order to make the ‘sound off’ time as early as possible. Our published end times are to remain approximate.
Regarding sound levels, we work with a highly professional and responsible sound team and never have the volume to a level that is damaging or unacceptable – but these are live bands of differing styles and it is an open air, live music event.
We always try to respond positively to feedback – for instance removing stalls from the area that blocked families viewing their children in the playground, increasing our children’s activities area, etc. But it is impossible to keep everyone in the Town completely happy. Instead, just a bit of tolerance and understanding is asked for on all sides. Just a little. This festival is something very special – something that many towns would be envious of, but we have it. Let’s support it and everything it stands for. Please remember that the festival isn’t just a huge social activity – it supports youth programmes, charities and community groups who attend every year and boosts local business. We are all volunteers, and it is disheartening that some members of the town are making our efforts to produce this event far harder than it should be. Support from local Town Councillors who are elected to engage in the long term future of their town and help to promote it’s social, commercial and recreational prosperity is much appreciated.
If you live near a recreation ground, you have to assume a certain amount of noise. OK – a festival may be rather more than you bargained for, but perhaps it’s worth trying to look at it from a different view? Try embracing the whole idea that your town is creative, dynamic and convivial enough to have an event like this which offers access to all, and helps to promote the town’s living and working environment in a positive and progressive way.
It is, after all just one weekend in a year.
Unless we launch a winter festival, too.
Tentertainment Team of Volunteers