LNE event at Salcombe Regis abandoned.

On 28 June 2005, folk week organisers learnt of the decision to abandon the LNE event at Salcombe Regis. Local landowner Malcolm Burrough apparently cancelled both his plans and all the groups and callers who had been booked. Within hours, Gordon Newton, who is already running the Ham marquee, made a decision to take the LNE event over, transferring it to the Bulverton site.

For months, there had been local speculation about Health and Safety issues at the proposed Salcombe Regis site, including difficulties of access, but all appeared to have been going smoothly. The decision to pull out happened very quickly and was a result of frustration with EDDC who were insisting (amongst other things) that an unreasonably high number of toilets should be provided (see also press report below). The initial set up costs were apparently around 25,000.

Additional costs during the week would have included a nightly security guard charge of 400. EDDC had apparently insisted on 8 men on duty! (This information was obtained from a senior councillor, so we have to assume it is accurate!)

According to one of the organisers, Gordon Newton acted swiftly:

You'll have heard about the Late Night Extra debacle.

Malcolm Burrough has pulled out and Gordon Newton has taken it on. He's talked to the licensing people, the police, the fire officer, the marquee people, the farmer etc this morning and Late Night Extra is moving to Bulverton, where it was last year. We know how it works there, as do the marquee people etc.

Malcolm has cancelled the bands and callers so Gordon will be contacting them as soon as possible. The programme shouldn't change.

Anyone who has bought LNE tickets needn't worry as they will be honoured at the new venue.

So hopefully that's another disaster averted. My wife says it's just like the old days - this is the time of year when the foreign dance teams started ringing up saying they weren't coming!

The following appeared on the official website on 1 July 2005:

Bulverton to host Late Night Extras

29th June 2005 In response to press speculation, Sidmouth FolkWeek can confirm that the LNE will go ahead at the traditional Bulverton Site instead of the advertised Salcombe Regis site.

As a result of the relocation of the Late Night Extra venue, there may well be some slight changes in event timings. We are also looking at the possibility of moving one or two other events there to make better use of the facilities available to us.

We are aware that the remainder of this website still makes reference to Late Night Extra at Salcombe Regis site - however, rather than make the changes piecemeal, we have made a deliberate decision to leave the site as is for the moment, and wait until we have more complete information before performing the update.

All of which goes to show that if you want things done, leave it to half a dozen dedicated people who know what they are doing and keep committees and councils well out of the way. It has been known locally for months that the proposed Salcombe LNE venue had some problems - but instead of helpful communication, a lengthy application form had to be filled in, then submitted and then (finally) 'considered'. A more informal approach might have cut many corners and perhaps much speeded the process without compromising public safety. This needs to be considered by central government and all local councils. Absurd regulation and 'compensation culture' (that benefits principally lawyers) is having a devastating effect on everything from local school fetes to major folk festivals.

Some changes are surely needed? The newspaper article reproduced below highlights that Council approval for events is routinely given only days before the event takes place - despite that organisers may have had to put money down for infrastructure months in advance.

An article in the Sidmouth Herald of 1 July 2005 (shown below) contained further detail about the change of LNE venue. It also contained some unanswered questions, including the true extent of the 'formidable document' and whether much of it serves any useful purpose except to keep bureaucrats in work and rapacious lawyers at bay. And why did the police (etc) need 'more time to consider the application' when it has been known about in detail for months? Also left unanswered are whether the Bulverton landowners are renting the site to the hard pressed folk week organisers or giving it for free this year (that would be a nice gesture!) and (as ever) the true extent of support from local traders. However, this support appears to have increased substantially from past years, with several thousands of pounds being donated by some businesses to the 'Sidmouth Folk Week pot" as well as sponsorship of individual events.

Riddle of extra Late Night Extra

Entrepreneur and folk festival backer Gordon Newton has made an eleventh hour bid to secure Late Night Extra events for Sidmouth Folk Week, now the backer of the original venue has decided not to proceed with the event. Mr Newton has put around 30,000 on the line to ensure the advertised ceilidhs go ahead, securing the same Bulverton site that was used last year.

There are now two applications on the table at East Devon District Council for a Late Night Extra during Folk Week. One is Mr Newton's and the other is from the original applicant, golf centre owner Malcolm Burrough.

Peter Cuthbe, spokesman for Mr Burrough, said Mr Burrough's application for a public entertainment licence at Northern Hill Marquee, Salcombe Regis, still stood. "But he is not trying to run it this year," the spokesman added. "He has decided not to pursue it but let the application run, then possibly have it next year at the site."

Mr Cuthbe, who spent a month putting together the Salcombe Regis application, said he was pleased the event would go ahead. "I have being going to it for 29 years and worked jolly hard to put that application in place."

Mr Burrough told the Herald that Mr Cuthbe was his spokesman. "He has made a comment, and that is what he is there to do, I don't want to enter into the game. I am merely the financier." He said he had not wanted to be "tangled up in the politics of it".

The event at Salcombe Regis has already cost Mr Burrough several thousand pounds according to Simon Privett, artistic director of the late night specials.

After EDDC's general licensing sub-committee decided on Monday to defer granting the licence for two weeks to allow more time for fire, police and environmental health to consider Mr Burrough's application. Mr Privett said he thought Mr Burrough had been "put in a situation by the council where he stands to lose a lot of money through lack of communication".

However, at the meeting, Ian Carter, senior licensing officer, said the application had been "not wholly adequate" for a site that could take 1,000 people.

Having heard the plug would be pulled on the event, Mr Newton, determined to keep festival lovers happy, burned the midnight oil to put an application together for Festival Dance House (marquee) Bulverton, then drove from Maidstone in Kent to submit it at The Knowle. It will be considered on July 25.

A spokesman for EDDC confirmed that both applications were in place and that Mr Burrough's would be re-examined on Monday, July 11. Mr Newton, and colleague Alan White who will be chief steward, said the application form was a "formidable" document.

He also confirmed that all the acts booked for the Salcombe Regis site had been asked to appear at Bulverton. Both he and Mr White said the event would end at lam, not 2am as in the past, and residents should not be affected by noise. Mr White added: "We have done more than what is necessary to stop any noise pollution because people on the campsite nearby want to sleep as well"

Tony Reed, president of Folk Week, said: "I am very pleased that Gordon and Mr White have come forward and we are also very grateful to the Baker family - Nancy and sons - for giving us the opportunity to relocate to the same site."

He said the LNE was an important element of the week and he wanted the whole event to be a rounded one. "We were selling something in our package that might not have happened. "There are people taking risks in this show and we want to minimise them. "I am grateful for the input of so many people and we have had a lot of positive input from traders."

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