Jazz Festival road closure - latest: No Road Closure
The Marlborough Arts Association (MAA), the organisation that promotes the Marlborough Jazz Festival have rejected the temporary road closure order issued by Wiltshire County Council late yesterday. Nick Fogg, on behalf of the MAA has issued the following release - the e-mail sent to Councillor John Thomson, Deputy Leader of Wilts County Council, explaining the reasons behind the rejection:
Subject: RE: Proposed temporary closure of: New Road, High Street (Part), Kingsbury Street (Part) and The Parade (Part), Marlborough - Marlborough International Jazz Festival, Saturday 16th July 2016
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2016 06:52:48 +0100
Marlborough Arts Association (MAA) has made it absolutely clear that since it was required to produce a report on measures it intended to take to ensure public safety prior to this proposed road closure (which it has never requested or even been consulted upon) and that this was clearly a condition of any granting of the unrequested closures, it was unable to accept this condition. This was not only because this closure had never been requested, but, more importantly, because a risk assessment conducted by the internationally reputable Health and Safety Support Team of NFU Mutual had concluded that a failure by Wiltshire Council to grant the closures that MAA had originally requested would constitute a risk to public safety in the highest category. This MAA considered it had neither the authority or the expertise to do, an opinion considerably enhanced by the risk assessment and also by police advice on public record over many years.
MAA points out that even if it were minded to accept the provision of this Traffic Order, which it makes clear once again that it is not, it has been instituted so late that it is impossible of enactment by MAA. It was issued barely 48 hours before it was intended to come into force. Having refused the terms of the original proposal, MAA was entirely justified in assuming that that was the end of the matter. The closure date of the public consultation was May 27th and it is entirely reasonable to suppose that if such a Traffic Order were to be proposed it would be proposed after further appropriate consultation, since as MAA has indicated, this proposal carries serious and well-defined elements of public risk. Failure to undertake such further consultation constitutes a further example of Wiltshire Council's recklessness in its approach to public safety on these matters.
Wiltshire Council is responsible for public safety on the highway. MAA expresses its deep regret at the failure of the Council and its authorized representatives to undertake this responsibility with appropriate seriousness. This laxity in the performance of its public duty is further compounded by the issuing of this Traffic Order. It must again be pointed out that MAA refused the attempt by Wiltshire Council to impose upon it the necessity to produce a plan for public protection during the hours prior to those given in this Traffic Order on the grounds stated above: that it had neither the authority or the expertise to do so. Since the responsibility for public safety on the highway is that of Wiltshire Council, if the said Council considered that such a provision was essential to public safeguarding it was then duty-bound to bring forward proposals to this effect. Instead it has chosen to go ahead with the granting of this Order without any such provisions. M AA regards this as grossly negligent.
MAA expresses the sincere hope that the potential consequences of Wiltshire Council's failure of regard for police advice, 20 years of precedent and a risk assessment compiled by an internationally-regarded and professionally competent authority will not be fulfilled. It has been advised however that such a hoped-for outcome does not lessen Wiltshire Council's culpability in its reckless disregard for public safety and in its failure to heed warnings of the potential consequences to public well-being of its actions.