Wiltshire Council have approved the recommendation to grant a road closure order for the Saturday (July 16) of the Marlborough International Jazz Festival starting at 5.00pm. This has been rejected by the Marlborough Arts Association (MAA), which runs the Jazz Festival.
The decision was taken by Wiltshire Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor John Thomson. His decision reads: “A road closure beginning no earlier than 5pm until midnight on Saturday 16 July 2016 is approved, conditional to the prior submission and approval of an event plan that ensures public safety.”
This decision is subject to ‘call in’ for further discussion by Wiltshire councillors.
The MAA had applied for a closure between 10.00am and midnight on the Saturday of the Festival for New Road, part of the High Street, part of Kingsbury Street and part of The Parade.
Prior to making this application, the MAA had a ‘Road Closure Risk Assessment’ carried out by a Health and Safety Consultant from NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited. The consultant looked at four options and found that the closure of these roads produced the ‘best risk analysis.’
The consultant’s report recognised that with this option “There would be some disruption for the general town traffic, businesses and residents, public transport and for the emergency vehicles but not believed to be to an unmanageable extent. Consultation would need to be organised and actions taken to address any concerns.”
The MAA’s ‘Risk Assessment and Options’ paper that was submitted to Wiltshire Council can be read here.
Following ‘the unresolved objections to the 2015 application’, Councillor Philip Whitehead (Cabinet Member for Highways) held talks with the MAA and a consultation period was run by Wiltshire Council. It received six responses against road closure, eight responses against the road closure that was applied for but happy for a closure to begin at 5.00pm and one response in support of the road closure.
Marlborough Town Council had also recommended a 5.00pm start for the closure – as well as some alternatives if the New Road bandstand was moved.
The report by Councillor John Thomson spells out how the application process developed: “MAA have been contacted with details of the comments received during the consultation period inviting them to explore whether local objections might be resolved.”
If they were not resolved, the decision on the road closure would have to become ‘a delegated decision’ made by a Cabinet Member: “MAA have not resolved the objections which were received…”
The report continues: “The Arts Association was advised that Wiltshire Council were minded to consider an option for a closure no earlier than 5pm on the day of the event, with corresponding alternative arrangements put in place to ensure public safety. The Arts Association responded [on June 17] by confirming that it had discussed this option and “…rejects it absolutely…”