From the Directors and the Swindon Mela Project Team
It is with deep regret that Swindon Mela Directors and Project Team have to announce the cancellation of the Swindon Mela event scheduled for Saturday 24 August 2013.
With up to 20,000 people from all over the South of England attending the event annually over the last six years, the loss of economic benefit to Swindon will be significant.
The decision came at an emergency meeting on the 1 May following formal receipt of the Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet decision, through the Event Safety Advisory Group (eSAG), to limit the capacity at the Town Gardens to a maximum of 5,000 visitors, staff and volunteers at any one time – despite published information that the venue has a 10,000 limit which the Swindon Mela has rigidly observed over the last 6 years.
Town Gardens has been the ideal site for the event over the last ten years and continues to be an important and integral part of the attraction of the Mela itself: the Mela would not be as we lovingly know at present if it were to be if staged elsewhere.
The layout is such that there is an air of friendly intimacy and it also resonates of the gardens built in Imperial India during the later part of the 19th Century. The management of each event has been strictly controlled such that there has never been any damage or nuisance within the site or to adjoining neighbourhood properties.
The Swindon Mela Project Team appreciates that the event brings much pleasure to members of all of our communities in Swindon and provides a source of substantial income into the local economy.
More importantly, the Mela is a showcase of the skills and talents of our local amateur artists and performers, particularly young persons, who look forward to demonstrate their skills at the Mela and inspire other young people to take up an interest in the activities staged at the Mela.
The meeting concluded that the reduction in site capacity was not economically viable to run the Swindon Mela. With little or no reduction in cost the Mela would face loss of income from donations, sponsorship and lower stall holder fees as well as having to manage and disappoint thousands of families queuing to get in.
The Mela Chair, Mr Jaspal Singh Bhui, said: "We are very disappointed. Despite the year on year impact of severe health and safety demands of Borough Council officials, we have met and exceeded their expectations every time and can record that no serious incident has been reported in 10 years".
Other members of the team expressed surprise having only recently received a request to proceed with a Temporary Traffic Road Order. With such short notice the team felt it had no option but to cancel the event for this year.
Swindon Council officials suggested a move to another venue with little understanding of the planning that goes into putting on an event that attracts 18,000 to 20,000 people. Other venues were discussed but all incur increased costs of hiring a stage, additional portable toilets, fencing and extra security including increasing the number of stewards required to run the outdoor event safely and smoothly.
With poor donation collection points, an event plan to be written and yet more stringent requirements expected from council officials the Project Team concluded that they did not have time nor certainty that an event could run safely without incurring losses.
The team felt other venues to be far less suitable with no pavements for wheelchair and emergency access, poor drainage and some with limited level areas.
Mela Company Secretary, Mina Bhogal expressed a view, supported by many in Swindon, that the Town Gardens is a unique and picturesque site that provides the perfect atmosphere for family events. It is this quality that is inextricably linked with the huge success of the Swindon Mela; one of the largest day events in the South West and a significant economy for Swindon.
The Mela Project Team will now begin a review of alternative venues and costs; venues outside Swindon are also being considered. The Project Team knows this will be extremely disappointing news for many in Swindon and suggest that views should be made through local Councillors.
Your ideas for the future
The Swindon Mela Project Team would like to thank you all for your support and give reassurance that it will continue its work to stage the Mela again in 2014 and welcome any feedback/comments you may have will support us in staging future events for the benefit of the people of Swindon: these can be addressed to The Project Team via email@example.com