Sunday, 05 April 2020

Music festival under fire from another neighbour

ANOTHER resident of Gallowstree Common has challenged claims that a music festival in the village is supported by local people.

Teresa Beddis said the organisers of the annual Around the Boundary festival were wrong to claim it was “community driven” and they hadn’t consulted villagers.

The third annual event is due to take place at the recreation ground, off The Hamlet, on bank holiday Sunday, May 24.

It is run by and in aid of Kidmore End Cricket Club and the Chris Bevington Foundation, which funds projects that use music to improve the lives of children and young people.

Earlier this month, the Henley Standard reported how villagers Dianne Collins and Carolyn Kew claimed the music was too loud and the event led to antisocial behaviour.

They called on Kidmore End Parish Council to stop the festival if their concerns were ignored.

Now Mes Beddis, who lives in The Hamlet, has supported the pair.

Speaking at a meeting of the council, she said: “It was an inaccurate statement by the cricket club in the Henley Standard saying that this ‘really is a community driven event’.

“If it was community driven, why has there been no dialogue with the local people? Why were we not included in the planning of this event? For example, we have never been given prior notice or warnings of loud music.

“When Around the Boundary was first held, there were issues raised and residents were given the impression that it was a one-off event.

“However, it has now taken place for the past two years and has grown beyond all expectations. Issues were again raised after the second year but not acted upon. Now the ‘bigger and better’ advertising is very worrying and of concern to the local neighbourhood.

“The main issues as we see it are the volume of sound, the number of cars in a small village and the charities that will benefit.

“On the volume of sound, the music was way beyond permitted limits, being so close to residential property. We live in The Hamlet and our pictures on the walls were literally rattling.

“We did request for it to be turned down and it was adjusted but not by enough. As an example, people who were using the toilets behind the main stage were holding their hands over their ears.

“Most people go away for the weekend but there are elderly people in The Hamlet who don’t have that choice.”

Mrs Beddis said the music had started before noon, contrary to the claim made by organisers.

She said: “Some of the acts took place before 11am and the sound checks were going on from at least 10am. It did finish at 10.30pm as stated.

“Car parking was provided in an adjacent field but the signage on Horsepond Road was inadequate. I requested for the entrance to The Hamlet to be manned to prevent visitors accessing via this route.

“To my knowledge, this didn’t happen, thus I spent most of my day redirecting cars out of The Hamlet to the correct parking area — not how I want to spend my bank holiday.”

She also questioned whether charities actually benefited from the festival. “We are happy to support local charities but can find no records as to how much was raised or where the money has gone,” said Mrs Beddis. “None of it has come to the village.

“The cricket club led us to believe that they received very little from the proceeds. We were told that the event is very expensive to put on and that they receive very little from it.

“I would like to finish by saying that we do not want to prevent others from enjoying themselves and making money for good causes.

“In its present format this event does not appear to be either community driven or for the benefit of the villagers.

“We would support and help with a village day where the profits are shared with the playing fields committee and other local charities and conducted in a way appropriate to the venue.”

Councillor Iain Pearson, who chairs the playing fields committee, said he would raise the residents’ concerns at the committee’s meeting next month but this year’s festival would go ahead.

He said the festival was insured and licensed by South Oxfordshire District Council and there would be first aid provision.

Cllr Pearson said the organisers had been asked to ensure:

•The noise levels are monitored.

•Residents of The Hamlet are notified of the event in writing.

• The names of charities that benefit are clearly stated.

• The playing fields committee is asked for permission to hold the event.

A spokesman for the festival said: “The music did not start until noon. The music as always was within permitted levels. If they [residents] have decibel readings for the event it would be of great interest to see them. We use a local professional sound and lighting company who deliver an amazing service to clients both locally and nationally to ensure the event is delivered perfectly.”

He said there was always an attendant manning the entrance to The Hamlet in a high-vis jacket along with signage directing people to the car park.

“The vast majority of cars come via the A4074 so have little to no impact on The Hamlet,” he said. “If people wish to use a public road, there is nothing we can do to stop this.”

The spokesman added: “As an example of money coming back to Gallowstree Common, the pavilion would never have been built without the tireless work, fundraising and personal donations from Kidmore End Cricket Club, which is a charity.

“Without the ability to raise funds to equip and maintain the facility, the cricket club would cease to exist.

“The pavilion and playing fields would quickly become unusable with no sports club contributing both in terms of income but, far more importantly, the thousands of hours given to keep everything in top condition for the community to enjoy.

“Local residents are key members of the event, giving up time, effort and personal donations to put on Around the Boundary. This year we have asked Kidmore End Primary School to get involved so they can raise valuable money for the school and the parish school .

“We are also looking to bring in other charities and non-profit organisations so they can gain exposure and raise valuable funds to keep doing the good they do in the local community.

“As everyone understands, Around the Boundary is about doing as much good as possible, while having a great time and all for charity.”

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