Brentford Festival 2012 Is Cancelled

Event mastermind Linda Massey explains why

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The Brentford Festival held at Boson Manor Park for the last seven years will not go ahead this year.

A row between the organisers and the council contractors over proposals to charge to stage the popular community event have meant it has been cancelled.

Organisers say they were asked to make financial & legal commitments which, as a non-profit community group manned by unpaid volunteers, was not possible.

Dave Viney, the festival’s music manager said, ''It is appalling that the Council has apparently abdicated any responsibility for free community events in public parks – the Brentford festival was a unique opportunity for local musicians to showcase their talents and entertain local residents in a festival environment – together with their oppressive regulation of live music in pubs & clubs, the Council seem hell-bent on exterminating live music in the borough.''

It is possible that the Festival will be transferred to another site in the Brentford/Ealing area but, unlikely to be on the same scale as previously.

Linda Massey - Brentford festival organiser writes, 'There are various stories and emails floating around about the Brentford Festival being cancelled and the reasons why this has happened.  I have purposely stayed out of the discussions having been so close to the event for the past 7 years but instead Dave Viney the music Manager and John Bradley Chair of Trustees, Friends of Boston Manor were the delegation who met with the council, John Laing (JLIS) and Continental Landscapes in December last year.

The delegation asked for it to be recognised by LBH and its agents that FoBM and BFC are composed of professional people with considerable expertise and commitment to the local community. Further this commitment is given without personal financial reward and therefore additional burdens, especially of a bureaucratic nature, act as a powerful disincentive to future involvement.
We look for the support of this event from local businesses, individuals and would of course expect it from those that are charged to run our parks and open spaces and the Council themselves.

Last year, when we were advised that the land managers, JLIS wished to charge  for the event to go ahead we expressed our dismay and were prepared to bring a closure to the event in 2011 as a matter of principle.  We did not and do not see that Council contractors should be profiting from the efforts of members of the community putting on what is seen as a well organised event for the community.  LBH came to the rescue and paid the bill which we understand to be in the region of £6,000.  Not the lesser figure that has been mentioned by Hounslow and quoted in the Hounslow Chronicle recently.   This makes us smart – they are already getting paid by the Council to manage the parks; council tax payers are already paying towards their public open space so  to profit for the reasons mentioned did not and does not wear well with the committee.

The delegation asked three simple things.

  1. That the level of service provision provided by Continental Landscapes is maintained.  Their help starts prior to the festival and is invaluable on the day.
  2. That any requirements from Brentford Festival considered by LBH or its agents as being necessary are kept to a minimum as the organisers have always been self regulating. Requests to sign contracts, pay fees should not be in the equation if the various parties truly support the event.
  3. The scope of the items 1 and 2 are confirmed by LBH no later than mid-January 2012 (16th January). This was extended to the end of January but still no formal response was received by the deadline set.

On the first point we have learnt that Continental Landscape and JLIS will be parting company by the end of March.  The contract, we understand, will be managed by JLIS in-house.  From the festival point of view this means that there is no hope for progress as JLIS never responded formally to our requests.  They suggested to the delegation that we charged more for the commercial element of the event which does not sit well with us and we are advised that they still require their fee.
The delegation, at their own request has now had sight of the contract that we refused to sign last year and I understand that we were right not to sign it.
It was not event specific but added bureaucracy.

…. And of course nobody was able to reach the generous deadline to save the day!

As an active member of Friends of Boston Manor it is most disappointing that we put so much effort in to improving the amenities in Boston Manor Park and that to pay the sums we understand JLIS required would mean that any future improvements within the park would be substantially reduced.

Linda Massey

If you'd like to express your views to the council please email Ruth Cadbury (Brentford Ward Councillor), Hamish Pringle (Assistant Director of Leisure and Cultural Services) and Pritam Grewal (Hounslow Councillor)

19th February 2012