Jazz Fest Street Closure

Written by Val Compton on .


I am appalled at the utter incompetence and wilful ignorance of Wiltshire Council over safety issues and the road closure for Marlborough Jazz Festival.  Is it worth pointing out just one more time that the High Street traders, to which Wilts Council are pandering, are putting all issues above public safety.  They already have a High Street that is open for business, accessed from the west end (by St Peter’s church) but the closure prevents that huge volume of through traffic.  Car parks are accessible – but of course they will be busy in extreme, despite the Jazz Fest doing its best to direct cars up to the common.

Even with the High St open to through traffic, trade would always be affected by the Jazz Festival.  People travel from far and wide for music that weekend – not retail therapy. However, it is still a win/win situation for all traders.  Any food or drink provider will win immediately over the weekend, others may have to wait. In showcasing a High St (even more beautiful minus through traffic) it will certainly bring many Festival goers back for a second look at shops or to spread the word about our exquisite market town.  Traders with no instant win could almost write the day off to advertising – FREE advertising for them.  They could of course, as some did last year – enhance their advertising right in front of their own shops.  How can bringing so much revenue into the town be seen anything other than good?  How can a small market town like Marlborough forgo the opportunity to make its’ mark on the world?  It should be supported by all, in safety and particularly by Marlborough Town Council and Wiltshire Council.

One final thing – there are those who cannot afford tickets and those who find it difficult to walk around for long periods of time due to age or infirmity.  After the road closure became established as a safety requirement – the empty space was put to good and altruistic use.  Free all day entertainment for anyone.  Children, young people, families and older people are able to gather and enjoy, free of charge, the many acts provided.  It makes it an inclusive festival, is an annual meeting place and creates a wonderful atmosphere that is second to none in the heart of the festival.  No, it is not a reason for making the road closure decision – the tradition of a free bandstand was established after the road was closed to through traffic and the empty space became available.  There will be many performers looking forward to showcasing what they do (business for them) and many hundreds of people who will regard it as a huge snub to those who either can’t afford a festival ticket, or have young children who just love being outside in a festival atmosphere.  It would need to be made very clear to the public ON the day that if this road is open to through traffic and there is no free entertainment, it is entirely down to unsupportive Councils, before the whispers start that the Jazz Fest have not bothered to close the road in order they don’t have to provide free entertainment! I know how the Marlborough rumour machine works.

Shame on Marlborough Council for not giving their total support to the biggest event of the year and to Wiltshire Council for allowing a few aggrieved traders to try and destroy this wonderful tradition, evolved through the professionally assessed need for public safety.  Marlborough International Jazz Festival puts this town’s name on not just the UK map but the world map.


Val Compton