A Letter from Nantwich

March 2010                                                                                                       Update

Fate of festival in balance

This is Mill Island, looking towards Welsh Row, which will - hopefully - be the venue of the Nantwich Food and Drink Festival in September, 

THE Nantwich Food and Drink Festival is one of the major events in Nantwich every year - and as such, one of the major attractions to the town for visitors from near and far. 

   Well, it has been up to now. The new Cheshire East Council, which has been in power for less than a year, has put the future of the event in doubt by saying it doesn't wish to run the event. Add this to the Nantwich Riverside Project which has also bitten the dust, putting future improvements to the town's waterway on the line, and you can see why Cheshire East Council isn't the favourite local authority as far as Nantwich people are concerned.

   Indeed, Nantwich people (and their neighbours in Crewe) fear that local towns are suffering at the benefit of places in the north of the new administrative area.   

   Fortunately, in both the cases mentioned above, there are groups of Nantwich people who are not prepared to stand idly by and let these aspects of the town disappear.

   While the Greenspaces South Cheshire group has been set up to look after the river banks (as long as they can find the financial backing), a number of local people who have always been associated with the nationally-known food and drink event are taking steps to see that it carries on. Backing them are the organisers of Nantwich Show - a successful agricultural event which is continuing while other - bigger - shows call it a day. 

   One of the leaders of that gallant band of people is Nantwich Town Councillor Graham Fenton who also saw to it - along with others - that Holly Holy Day not only continued but went from strength to strength.

   The website of the town's local authority says: "(The festival) was organised by the former Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council and the Town Council has always given it support."

   The site goes on: "The new Cheshire East Council decided it does not wish to run it any more, nor to pay anything towards it." And that last bit is crucial because no matter how keen a group of people are they have to have the money to carry off the running of the event. Cheshire East Council is said to be planning to reduce financial support from 20,000 a year to nothing in three years.

   The Town Council said, on its website, that they "wish the committee (of local people) well in their bid" to run the festival. Presumably they will also continue to put some money behind that wish.

   Given the enthusiasm of local people for getting on and staging big events - the aforementioned Holly Holy Day (part of which is the Battle of Nantwich re-enactment), the St George's Day celebrations, and Nantwich Family Fun Day (the successor to Nantwich Carnival) - I feel sure that there WILL be a Nantwich Food and Drink Festival this year.

   But for it to continue in the future it needs the continuing support of local people together with people from all over the U.K. and further afield. Please make sure you are one of them!

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