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Ludlow events noise 'despair' prompts council reminder to organisers

A Ludlow resident's 'despair' at noise and disruption from big events in the town is set to be discussed by councillors.

Runners in the 2019 Ludlow 10 race. Picture: David Woodfield.
Runners in the 2019 Ludlow 10 race. Picture: David Woodfield.

Organisers of two recent events which were mentioned by the anonymous resident - a 10K race and the town's fringe festival - defended their crowd pullers as providing massive economic boosts.

Ludlow Town Council says big events are assets to the town but it is "important to consider all perspectives" when they put everything in the mix. Councillors are being recommended to remind organisers of their responsibilities when they meet next week.

One resident and businesses have written about their concerns to the council, which is set to meet on Monday.

"I write again in despair over the noise we in the town centre are subjected to," wrote the resident.

"We have had the Fringe, which must be the longest in the country, for three weeks. Every weekend and most weekdays we have ‘noise’ from the Square."

The resident also spoke of a booming megaphone during the 10K run held at the beginning of July.

"Trying to have a quiet drink in the garden with friends is not possible, we had to move indoors. The megaphone boomed, unbearably loud if you were nearby and unintelligible if you were further away. The music was not too loud, but do they have to have music at all?"

The resident also spoke of "a piercing penny whistle plus others, with speakers" and claimed that "a lot" of people feel "completely overlooked by the town council, no one has ever asked if we mind the Hurdy Gurdy machine playing endlessly, or some other random busker assaulting our ears constantly".

They added that they are not a "spoilsport" and love culture and festivals.

But the aggrieved person added: "I think residents have rights to quiet enjoyment of their properties. And don’t tell me ‘You can always go away during the festival’ as one participant told me."

A briefing paper that will be presented to the full council meeting adds that local businesses have raised concerns that the Saturday night road closure for the 10K has "adversely affected their business".

It added: "One restaurant did not have a single customer all night because of the road closure but had to cover the normal overheads of being open."

The organisers of the 10K race, Be Endurance, denied that it had been impossible for people to park up and get to town centre businesses. A transport plan had been worked out and relayed to residents and businesses well before the event, said a spokesman.

Dermott Hayes, of outgoing 10K race organiser Be Endurance, said the evening race on July 9 was the last one his company would be organising. Next year's event will be handled by a different company.

Mr Hayes said: "It is difficult to comment because the town council has not approached us yet. We dealt with a noise issue after one person got in touch with us."

He added that he would be happy to pass on any issues to the organisers of next year's event if the town council approach them.

"I can't apologise for something if it has not been raised with me but we would consider it and take it on board. We have worked closely with Ludlow Town Council and have provided a lot of business for the town," he said.

"Access to restaurants and pubs was possible during the event. An agreed traffic management plan was put in place. We carried out a letter drop, contacted the Ludlow Chamber of Commerce and used social media to let people know what was happening."

Ludlow Fringe Festival Director Anita Bigsby

Anita Bigsby, of the Ludlow Fringe Festival, said she found it dispiriting as an event professional to hear of complaints as they work all year to try to get it right.

"Our performers are professional musicians, not buskers, so that's not true, it's absolute rubbish. We had a stage with two afternoons of music, one was a fundraiser for Ukraine.

"Some 12-13,000 people enjoyed the festival over the three weeks. It brings in a lot of revenue into the town.

"Most activity was on the Square on Saturdays and Sundays and we stuck to all the rules."

Ms Bigsby said the complainant would have 'good news' because next year's fringe festival is due to take place over two weeks, not three, from June 17 to July 2. In the past it has been for as long as four weeks, she added.

"We have had some wonderful feedback - the carnival brought in 1,000 people and had hundreds of local children involved."

She added that there are always some people who are going to be upset with events and it is "very difficult". But she added: "Some people move into Ludlow thinking it is a museum... but we are proud of our thriving community.

"We try to have something for everyone with a diverse range of events. We are so proud of what we have got. We have an amazing creative community and we want people to come along and enjoy it."

She added that the fringe has had "no complaints whatsoever".

The town council, at its meeting on Monday is being recommended to contact all festivals and ask them to be "respectful to the needs of the residents and local businesses, and to clear up after their event".

One unnamed event reportedly left a lot of mess and the recommendation to councillors is that if it has to clean up, a charge will be levied.

The 10K organisers are set to be asked to be respectful of nearby residents and not to disturb them with their public address system, and not play music during their event. They will also be asked to "hold their event at a less commercially sensitive time for the eateries of Ludlow".

If buskers or groups are given permission to perform on Events Square under the permits system, the recommendation is that they are limited to a maximum duration of one hour.

The council is also set to be recommended to say that performances "must be acoustic and not amplified". Ms Bigsby said this would be unrealistic if it is approved.

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