Letter from the Sidmouth Herald supporting the Festival and critical of Town Councillors.

Festival brings town recognition

Some Sidmouth Town Councillors really ought to learn to moderate their language when reacting in public to ideas and opinions which they do not like. Last May we had the reference to the residences of older people as "ghettos". Now we have Councillor Reed's dismissal (last week's Herald) of Stephen Wozniak as "the learned doctor" and "the master gardener". Councillors who dismiss differing ideas as "rantings" set themselves up for further criticism. How sure are they that 'there is no local support for this point of view?" Have they asked anyone outside their own charmed circle? This is another example of unilateral decision-making like the refusal of a farmers' market for the town.

If putting up financial support for a Sidmouth Festival is "risking public money" portraying " a naive ignorance", where are the audited accounts showing the profits accruing from participation in Britain in Bloom or production of the Town Guide? The late finding of 5000 for folk-week is jumping on a bandwagon. It could have been offered much earlier, conditional on a folk-week actually happening, so as to reduce the "risk to public money", thus showing commitment and encouragement when it was most needed.

To dismiss the festival as "an event that only involves one week of the year" betrays a sorry lack of vision. The name of Sidmouth is recognised in many parts of the world because of its festival and attracts year-round visitors as a result. More people have heard of us through that link than have ever read the town guide or seen that we have occasionally won Britain in Bloom!

Elections are imminent - perhaps more judicious language and more open minds are called for.

Peter Whitfield
Manor Road

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