The world famous Marlborough Jazz Festival will not go ahead in 2017 unless an ongoing dispute between organisers and Wiltshire Council over the lack of road closures is resolved.
According to organisers, this years Jazz Fest saw several near misses between vehicles and the crowds gathering to enjoy the week long festivities in the centre of Marlborough. Wiltshire Council took the decision to keep the roads open after businesses in the town made clear their opinion that all-day road closures had a negative impact on trade.
The festival has been permitted to close the roads into Marlborough town centre for the past 20 years and involves multiple venues across the town, with crowds often moving between performances across the main roads that run along the high street. Wiltshire Council this year suggested a road closure from 5pm on Saturday 16 July rather than the usual 10am.
A statement from the organisers of the Marlborough Jazz Festival states: “Following Wiltshire Council’s refusal to grant adequate public safety road closures for the 2016 Jazz Festival, the Trustees of the Marlborough Arts Association have reluctantly concluded that the potential danger to life and limb means that they cannot continue to run the festival in its traditional format.
“The Trustees will now turn their attention to devising new events which are not dependent on road closures for public safety. They will also be examining alternative ways in which they can support the arts in Marlborough.
“The road closures have occurred for over 20 years. They were applied for originally on the advice of the police, who were concerned about public safety. This advice was confirmed by a report commissioned from the Risk Assessment Team of NFU Mutual which placed the risk of a severe incident in the highest category.
“The risk was underlined by an incident in New Road during this year’s festival when a van swerved off the highway while trying to avoid the crowds, missing pedestrians by inches.
“The Trustees are saddened that Marlborough faces losing, even if only temporarily, the considerable economic benefits of their annual three day festival, made possible by its loyal sponsors and the herculean efforts of its band of dedicated volunteers. The Trustees take this opportunity to thank them both.”
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: “While we appreciate the Jazz Festival is a popular event we also have to address concerns raised by the town council and the needs of local people and businesses, and those using these key routes through Marlborough. The Jazz festival took place this year without road closures and without incident. We’re very happy to meet up with the organisers and determine how we can strike the right balance to host this event while addressing those concerns.”