Edited comments from 'another Sidmouth resident' - January 2005 - from the mudcat website. They present a contrast to the views summarised on the last page. I do not know the author's identity.

8 Jan 2005

I know many of the people who are trying to keep events in Sidmouth going. They are good friends. I respect their views but I'm also entitled to mine.  I currently enjoy the occasional drink or chat with Tony, Stuart and the others. They are so passionate about what they are doing that if they knew my identity our friendly beer or chat would be replaced with a very unfriendly argument. That is why I choose not to reveal my identity. I don't want the Sidmouth festival to die but I fear the very restricted programme of events in 2005 will hasten its demise. I believe 2005 should be a gap year so a real festival can be properly planned in 2006 without a semi-festival fiasco in the meantime.

9 Jan 2005

It is very difficult to be positive and support events which you know are doomed to failure.

I live here in Sidmouth. I know what's really going on. There are sadly an awful lot of people in Sidmouth who are delighted to see the back of the festival and don't actually want their quiet little seaside retirement town taken over by hordes of loud folkies every summer.

The events programme, such as it is, keeps changing but is slowly but surely being scaled-down as realism sets in.

All plans to continue using the Arena have been dropped since the true costs became known and I fear similar costs and licensing restrictions will eventually put paid to plans for concerts in a marquee at the Ham.

Officers at East Devon District Council are demanding 15 million public liability insurance and a whole raft of health and safety measures for EVERY outdoor / tented event.

The Town Council, or at least part of it, is trying to keep a few events going but I understand the District Council has still not approved licences for ANY events at the Ham, Blackmore Gardens or anywhere else... and will be imposing the same restrictions that helped to drive last year's organisers out-of-town.

My belief is that we will just end up with a handful of concerts in the Manor Pavilion and The Bedford, a couple of dances in church halls and some sessions in The Anchor and a few other supportive public houses who don't need extra licences, insurance, infrastructure etc.

I keep posting because I think it's important that well-intentioned outsiders know what they are up against - a District Council that has withdrawn all funding and support for the festival and a local community that, in large part, doesn't want the festival anyway.

It's also important that people still planning to travel to Sidmouth in late July do so in the full knowledge of what is and is not happening. It would be wrong to attract them with the promise of a festival when the truth is there will just be a few small-scale concerts plus a number of sessions in local public houses.

Sorry if that is negative but it's the truth. I want to see a proper festival back in my home town. I greatly admire those trying to keep some events going but they are wrong to dress these events up as "The Sidmouth Festival" when the truth of the matter is that the events taking place this summer will be nothing like the Sidmouth Festival we have known and loved.

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