DOZY’S RAMBLES: Festival was a success, but was airport the right venue?

There was plenty of action to see yesterday  PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell
There was plenty of action to see yesterday PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell

Okay, it’s arrived and now its gone... Yes, I am talking the Wild Life Festival.

I wasn’t going to comment this week but, as I have been berated by the chair of the Adur District Council Licencing Committee, I thought I would defend myself.

Let’s look at the positives.

First up let me point out that I am only interested in Shoreham as a town as I adore Shoreham with a passion.

This was an extremely well organised event showing that SJM (the promoters) and the local authority had obviously listened to local concerns prior to the event and agreed to put in place various requirements.

Shoreham town was buzzing with all the food and drink outlets cashing in, literally – I understand one food shop put their prices up for the weekend!

Several traders said the weekend made no difference to their trade.

The traffic flowed extremely well – there were no holdups on the A27 and the A259 was better than any normal weekend.

How wonderful it was to see ‘real’ police on foot patrol through the town, something that is far too rare these days.

So why was I being berated? Because I made a comment that, if people and certain councillors hadn’t made a fuss about the event, all the extra measures would not have been in place.

It was suggested by the chairman of the licencing committee that I was wrong to make this statement. Really why?

If there was no fuss, nothing said, if concerns of the residents weren’t brought to the attention of councillors, then I am sure we would have a very different outcome from this event.

Were we expected to lie down and let a massive commercial company run roughshod over us?

Because that is exactly what would have happened had it not been for the enforced consultations and conditions worked out with the licencing committee.

I won’t bring up here about meetings behind closed doors and threats made to councillors who objected to the event.

My initial objection was one that I have used before and that’s when, in my opinion, companies come to our town and treat us with no respect.

This event was at first called the ‘Worthing Weekender’, and was advertised as a Brighton event: ‘Get a train to Brighton and the airport is only a short walk away’ – oh really!

I had the same objections to the proposed colour festival planned for Adur Recreation Ground a couple of years ago, when the event was advertised showing Brighton’s Palace Pier as being in Shoreham!

In fact they said that Shoreham was in Brighton.

SJM had several discussions with the council leaders prior to announcing the event and decided to go ahead with their application mid-negotiations, deciding to ignore whatever had been discussed.

The licencing committee was put in a very difficult position and, as we know, it took a long time to come to an agreement to allow the event to go ahead.

It turns out now that it was a good decision, and I am sure that many will want to comment on what went on and how things could be improved.

There were a number of complaints about the quality of acts, transport, on-site toilets and the lack of rubbish bins. I am sure these will be discussed at de-briefing meetings that are soon to take place.

In my opinion, 35,000 people per day was the maximum, and I still wonder, at the back of my mind, whether the airport was the right venue?

I don’t accept that the airport was about to close unless this went ahead, as suggested by some.

The company that took on the airport did so with open eyes, and that was prior to this event being suggested, unless of course someone knew more than they are saying?

Oh, let me say that it’s about time the airport was officially called Shoreham Airport, not Brighton City Airport!

• Mike Mendoza’s views about what’s going on in Adur.