THIS is not a ploughed field on a
Nantwich farm, but a normally attractive green area in the
centre of town. Mill Island looked like this after the
2008 Nantwich Food and Drink Festival had taken place.
I am not sure if the damage
was caused by the feet of the many visitors - it's a strange shape
and too concentrated to be a site of the marquees - or the
which presumably go on to the site to remove whatever goes to make
up the Festival - including the rubbish left behind.
Presumably it wasn't so
neat after the festival closed and has been levelled in a bid to help
the green area get back to its normal state.
The event is good for the
town and I am pleased we host it every
but the site is, apparently, going to take three months to recover.
Just in time for the re-enactment of the Battle of Nantwich in
January. And then, no doubt (unless the ground is frozen hard and
damage resistant) the feet of the Sealed Knot members will churn it
up again. Will that
mean a further three months of an
So the question is: is this the right
site for the event? Nantwich Town Councillors are calling for
the event to be re-sited and are deciding whether they wish to
continue contributing £2,000 towards the costs of running it. Quoted
in the Nantwich Chronicle of October 15, Cllr Arthur Moran (town,
borough and county councillor) said: "I was gobsmacked to see Mill
Island is such a mess."
Fellow town and
borough councillor, Cllr Bill McGinnis added: "We really need to
consider whether having Mill Island out of action for three or four
months is worth having the festival there. The site was looking so
good this summer thanks to the efforts of Nantwich in Bloom
committee and the (borough) council staff."
A call two years ago to
move the Festival, which was said to be getting too big, was met with
the comment that businesses involved would suffer if it was
re-sited. But what about the suffering of the town as a whole if
this is the sight that greets visitors?
It has been suggested that
Dorfold Park, on the Chester side of town - the site of Nantwich and
South Cheshire Show, the annual agricultural event - or Reaseheath,
where the Sealed Knot Summer Muster was staged in 2007, could be
ideal sites. The beer festival could still be staged in the Civic
Hall and the Farmers' Market could stay on The Square, it is said. Presumably
it would be staged anyway.
Other contenders for
hosting the festival would
be Brookfield Park or Barony Park - both
on the outskirts of the town centre. But why should either be
subjected to the damage seen at Mill Island?
Back in the early 1970s
there was a public outcry when the revived Holly Holy Day event,
commemorating the Battle of Nantwich, resulted in Barony Park being
The festival had caused problems to people
the Millfields area
because the event blocked off Mill Island from the town centre and residents had to take
a longer route into town via Welsh Row.
problem was solved by laying a footpath across one side of the
Island (above), and constructing a temporary fence at the side of it
during the festival weekend to
contain the event.
What the Food and Drink Festival
people think about new site
IN the interests of balanced reporting,
I contacted the Food and Drink Festival people who didn't wish to
take up my offer of making a comment.
However, the Chairwoman of
the Festival, Miranda Shufflebotham, was quoted in the Nantwich
Chronicle (October 29) as saying: "To hold a large event will leave
some mess, but how efficient have the borough council been in making
it good?" She added: "Times are going to be very
tough next year for our shops. We must have more visitors and use
many events to achieve this.
"There is united opinion amongst all
shops that moving the festival out of town would be highly
detrimental to their business."
She pointed out that other
events held at Dorfold Park and Reaseheath brought no extra visitors