THE CHAIRMAN wrote:
THANKS for the coverage and support (on this
website) of Holly Holy Day.
The Mill Island point is a tricky one. I
was dismayed to see how Mill Island looked back in October 2008, with deep
vehicle grooves and scarred areas from both the food festival and the
building of the new bridge, and from improvements near the Waterlode
I was surprised that no apparent effort
had been made to correct any of this as it was obvious that likely
weather conditions would aggravate the situation much further over the
winter, furrows filling with water, etc.
As you know, the state of the ground caused the cancellation of the
bonfire and firework celebration planned at the end of the battle re-enactment. We
were fortunate that the battle
was able to proceed at all. This
was achieved by placing large amounts of
straw on the worst battle and spectator areas.
One issue that seems to come up often is that Mill Island seems to
drain surprisingly badly, so that any sustained pedestrian traffic on
the grass (let alone a large event) soon destroys the grass and causes
muddy areas. I understand that the drainage issue has been looked at and
will cost about £10,500.
Recognising the importance of Mill Island
as both an everyday leisure facility and an event venue, a number of
voluntary bodies are looking into whether they could not raise some of
this money, and ask the public authorities then to make up the rest.
There are also forms of turf and turf laying that are designed to help
grass cope with heavier use, and this also merits serious consideration.
In a town with a growing
reputation and economic growth as a tourist venue, through events like
Brass band concerts
on Mill Island?
SHAUN Cafferty admitted "There have been a
few mutterings about Mill Island being used for the
He said these were mostly
from those "who would prefer to see Mill Island not used at all, merely
He added: "I would like to
see a public debate about the merits of investing in Mill Island, so
that it could more easily support these and other events without
becoming an unsightly quagmire.
"There are drainage
systems and turf
designed for this kind of heavier
usage."If this were done we could see Nantwich have its own little
which could have a variety of uses on odd days and weekends throughout
the year, adding to the ambience without damaging its fabric or its
amenity as a grassy open place for the citizens.
"I am thinking maybe the odd
brass band concert in the summer - or a craft fair."
Holy Day, the Food Festival, and the Jazz
need to invest in Mill Island so that it
can host these (and other) events
without the recurring problems we are
seeing. Such facilities exist elsewhere
in the country, so it can be done, and
it might attract other occasional small
events and festivals here to the benefit
of the townspeople and the economy.
The alternative locations mentioned would suffer just the same
problems with mud and grass destruction, but are further from town. Mill
Island's proximity to the town centre means that people attending events
also, almost invariably, visit and spend much-needed money in the town
itself, as was very certainly the case on Holly Holy Day. It also helps
attract greater public interest and attendance at the event, and is by
far the easiest venue to use if charging for admission.
Larger events may be able to
cope differently, but Holly Holy
Day is an entirely voluntary, small,
making event which sustains a local tradition, entertains the
townsfolk, and attracts business to the town.
It is dependent financially on
the crowds paying to watch, and whilst I am working to reduce the
amount of this dependency, it will nevertheless remain a significant
The practicalities of staging this annual
event at a different location pretty much mean that it would fold,
unless even larger local grants were forthcoming, and surely that money
would be better invested in making the venue more suitable and hardy for
I guess the local people and local authorities have to firstly decide
whether they want a food festival and/or a Holly Holy Day, and the other
various festivals and entertainments that you see here but don't see in
many other towns these days, and if so what kind of price they are
prepared to pay for them.