‘There’ll be no beer tent at March Summer Festival - and on that point we remain adamant’ committee tells local publican

10:33 27 May 2014

Beth Syer-Clarke and Jennifer Deverson with the Specsaver insect at the March Summer Festival

Beth Syer-Clarke and Jennifer Deverson with the Specsaver insect at the March Summer Festival

Archant

March Summer Festival says it remains “adamant” that it will never run a beer tent in West End Park during the three day event.

Clive Lemmon, town clerk and committee secretary, told publican Nigel Marsh who inquired about a beer tent: “This a point on which they are adamant and on which their minds will not be changed”.

Mr Lemmon was responding to criticism by Mr Marsh, landlord of Georges’, that a beer tent would be preferable to the “current situation of a ‘free for all’ using a hotch potch of services to ‘control’ the venue.”

Mr Lemmon said he was unaware of Mr Marsh’s statement that he had been campaigning to host a beer festival within the summer event.

“I am not aware of this and, to the best of my knowledge, nor are other members of the committee,” said Mr Lemmon. “Where has your campaigning taken place?”

He told Mr Marsh: “If you wish to arrange a beer festival, separate from the summer festival, this committee would not raise objections. However, it is their right to decide that they do not wish to hold a beer festival within the summer festival.”

He added: “March Summer Festival has been running successfully and trouble-free for the past 14 years, and will continue to provide a community event which they believe is appreciated by the majority of those attending.”

Mr Marsh said: “Surely it would be better to offer alcohol for sale from a regulated site, a beer tent, utilising the expertise in management of alcohol supply of local landlords?”

Mr Marsh said he had been campaigning for a beer festival “to emulate, though on a smaller scale, the success of the Peterborough Beer Festival.

“Live music and real ale are a great combination and create a huge attraction for people miles around. It also helps to promote the hospitality industry, an industry in which the local publican’s existence has been in jeopardy.

“March has seen five of its 12 local pubs close or change hands in the past 12 months; their continued existence will only be assured by allowing them to embrace the modern market and show the local population of March what they have to offer.”

“Other towns such as Chatteris openly embrace beer sales at their festivals.”

* The festival committee was reported to becoming “financially strained” when it met recently: members were told they needed to secure additional sponsorship or face the prospect of its reserves disappearing.

“If we overspend in 2014 to the same extent that occurred during 2013, our reserve would be wiped out and we could be facing a shortfall,” the committee was told.

It was reported that the grant of £5,000 from the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation had been unsuccessful. This was due to the fact that the committee is not a registered charity. Members were asked to make inquiries as to the cost / benefit implications involved in becoming a charity, so that a full discussion could be held at a future meeting.

* The committee heard that there was an opportunity for the event area to be fenced so that an admission fee could be charged but it was agreed that this was not a practical idea and should be discounted.

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