Headline news in the Sidmouth Herald of 21 May 2004 was a report of a letter written by a well known Sidmouth resident and sent to prominent councillors. It stated that Festival fans were 'riff-raff' and that it was wonderful news for Sidmouth that the festival might be scrapped. David Blumson's views are shared by many local people - and by some incomers too. They are a minority but a sizeable one. Fortunately, the Festival has many friends in Sidmouth who can be relied upon to come to its defence.

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Festival fans not 'riff-raff'

A letter describing International Festival-goers as 'riff-raff' has been condemned by councillors.

The letter, sent by David Blumson of Ashley Crescent, Sidmouth, to Councillors Tony Reed and Stuart Hughes expressed Mr Blumson's delight that the festival might not continue.

Mr Blumson said: "May I say what wonderful news for Sidmouth, reported in the Herald on May 14, that the International Festival could, at last, be eliminated and consigned to the scrap heap where it belongs along with, hopefully, the Caribbean Night and the carnivals.

The letter goes on to say that councillors are respected in the town and should back his views because they want Sidmouth to be a pleasant and better place.

However, neither Councillor Stuart Hughes nor Councillor Tony Reed backed Mr Blumson's views. Mr Hughes said: "I was completely taken aback when I opened the letter and saw the comments in it.

"He is talking about all the people who go to these events which includes families and a lot of elderly people. "We have had children as young as eight and adults in their 80s at the Caribbean Night. Does he really mean to say they are all riff-raff who take drugs, vandalise things and litter the place?

"He is entitled to his views but I am sure not many people would agree with that." Mr Hughes added that he is connected to the Caribbean Night and carnival and therefore would obviously not agree that they are best off finished.

He said: "I do not think the closure of these events would make Sidmouth a better place to live. I think they enhance the town and would leave a big gap to be filled if they went."

Sidmouth Town Council chairman Tony Reed also did not agree with Mr Blumson. Replying to the letter as chairman of the council, Mr Reed said: "As you quite rightly state, I do indeed wish for Sidmouth to be a pleasant place and to that end this council strives to sustain a town where beauty, good manners and pleasant surroundings are the norm and not the exception.

"I find myself at odds with your view that events held in this town are "a magnet for the scum and riff- raff" and indeed I think you do yourself no service by voicing such biased opinions.

"As chairman of Sidmouth Town Council I shall continue to give my support to local events which enhance the vitality and economy of our beautiful town."

But Mr Blumson, who moved to Sidmouth in 2000, has stood by his comments saying he believed that the International Festival should be scrapped. He said: "All it does is cause vandalism and litter in the town because of the people who go to it.

"I believe what I said is very much true and would like to see all these events gone for good. 'The town would be much better off."

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to obtain a souvenir copy of the Sidmouth Herald of 21 May, telephone the order desk on (01392) 888580.

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