Plans for Marlborough to have its own giant two-day Food and Drink Festival in July covering the whole of the Common have been rejected by the town council for a variety of reasons.
But the company behind the proposal refuses to be defeated and wants to hold talks to find a way ahead for an event aimed at boosting tourism and the local economy.
“I certainly want to do something positive, to talk to the council and find alternative dates and ensure that we meet their criteria and also the local community’s,” John Rhodes, who runs Garden Events Ltd, told Marlborough News Online.
“Marlborough is a beautiful town and I am sure food and wine lovers would be very interested indeed in our festival. There are always hurdles to jump over and if I can work with the council and the local community we can do our best to keep everyone happy.”
And he is particularly interested in Marlborough’s link with the wine-producing town of Marlborough, in New Zealand, as Mr Rhodes is himself a New Zealander.
His company, which organises a similar festival in Cheltenham, wanted to take over the Marlborough Common for the festival on July 13 and 14.
His plan, outlined to the council’s Amenities and Open Spaces Committee, would have included two marquees for food lovers, separate international wine education and cooking demonstration theatres, a champagne garden, real ale marquee, festival café, music stage and some 30 individual stalls.
But his chosen dates are already booked for boot fairs. The dates also clash with this year’s Marlborough International Jazz Festival, due a week later, plus the fact that Marlborough’s Communities Market is having its own food festival on June 30 and in October there will be the annual Feast for Food in aid of Cancer Research UK.
And there is the additional serious problem of where visitors to such a major event, expected to attract thousands of people, will be able to park.
“Bringing people into the town for events is great,” Councillor Val Compton told Marlborough News Online. “But parking is a very real problem.”
Concern has also been expressed that Marlborough residents would be denied access to the Common unless they bought tickets for the festival.
In a letter to the council, Mr Rhodes pointed out that blues and folk music would enliven the event too, adding: “This is not a rock concert, more a picnic in the park along the lines of the Cheltenham food and drink festival that we also organiser.
“There will be company’s selling food and alcohol for consumption on site, the event is a ticketed event and will be aimed at a family audience. We would like to have a decision from the council as soon as possible so that it allows us enough time to organise the event.”