A letter published on 24 August 2001 from a shopkeeper in Sidmouth suggesting that the folk festival gets out of town because it brings little or no net financial benefit. The writer makes some good points about the lack of credible data - a point discussed at some length at the town meeting held in June 2004 and also elsewhere on this website.

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Festival gets our cash.

Once again festival week has been and gone and peace reigns once more. Yet again we have Steve Heap bellyaching about the mean business people of Sidmouth not contributing to his coffers, this time aided and abetted by East Devon District Council chief executive John Vallender, who should know better.

How dare they make the erroneous assertion: where do they think the 130,000+ subsidy comes from, if not from our rates? 130,000? - the extra cost of policing the 2000 festival was 50,000 (Sidmouth Herald, August 10). Then there is 81,000 subsidy from the local authorities (Steve Heap's own figure, Herald June 15) not to mention the extra cost of daily clean up operations. What about the loss of revenue with their confiscating a good proportion of the Ham car park?

Repeatedly, we have this self-styled image of the altruistic philanthropist who brings untold wealth into Sidmouth for no return. Last year he told us it was 12 million extra business. This year it is 5 million. Where does he dig these ridiculous figures from?

Sure, the brewers do a good trade and all the fast food outlets - but 5 -12 million? for heaven's sake! Bear in mind that all reputable hotels and guest houses are already full at the height of the season. As for the rest of us, some even make a loss that week. For the last two years my turnover for those were less than the weeks previous and following. In all honesty - this year I'm up by 15 per cent - hardly worth getting excited about.

I'm in complete agreement with Sheila Luxton (letters, last week). Let them all go to Westpoint. What a hope though. Can you really see him give up a rent free venue and 130,000 subsidy. Some chance! The whole subject of the festival has become a sacred cow. You dare not discuss it or criticise it for fear of being labelled anti Sidmouth.

Well I don't like sacred cows. Let's discuss it and I hope someone can do some research and come up with some accurate figures and facts to show whether Sidmouth or outsiders benefit the most.

Pictures & Pastimes,
Old Fore Street,

Note: Discussion of data calculation for folk festivals is here.

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