No support for closure of Petworth Market Square

FEARS that organisers of a new fringe festival in Petworth are being over ambitious has led to calls to scale back the event.

Monday, 1st February 2016, 1:56 pm
Updated Monday, 1st February 2016, 2:00 pm
The square is closed annually to traffic for the Petworth Fair

The inaugural petFringe was held was year and organisers said they wanted to build on its success with a ‘more expansive enhanced programme’.

The new festival planned from July 1-10 included closing Market Square on July 2 to pedestrians as well as traffic on Saturday from 5pm for a major paid ticketed event and closing it again the following weekend on Saturday and Sunday to traffic for a food festival.

In addition some 15 other events are planned at venues during the week.

But Petworth own councillors have said they could not support the square closure for a ticketed musical event and have suggested the use of the car park and Rosemary’s Gardens instead.

But they had no objections to the use of the square for the food festival.

Without exception, town councillors, at a special meeting called to discuss the plans, supported for the concept of PetFringe.

But vice chairman Roger Hanauer echoed the sentiments of fellow members when he said: “Bearing in mind last year it wasn’t terribly well attended, I think it’s a quantum leap to go from the fairly poor footfall to having 1000 people in the Market Square.

“I think its over-enthusiasm on the part of the Fringe people and completely outweighs the practical side of things. In my view there are so many things against it that it’s a non starter.

“I think we should encourage the organisers to hold it much as last year and use Rosemary’s Gardens, but I don’t think there is a justification for closing Market Square and disrupting all the faction in Petworth who are not going to attend.”

Neville Fox said he had ‘serious concerns’ and wanted to see it contained in a shorter time and done well. He was concerned about preventing access to the Leconfield Hall and residents crossing the square.

“I also don’t think we should support the closure of the square for a private event. It would open the flood gates to any other private enterprise, we would be setting a precedent.”

In addition he was concerned sponsors should be aware they were supporting a limited company.

“I support this in principle but its the wrong venue.”

Juliet Fynes added: “If they are talking about 1000 people in the square it has the potential for generating an awful lot of ill feeling.”

Hugo Petersens believed charging for an issue: “Is there any possibility of being less ambitious and not charging,” he asked.

Liz Singleton said it would be interesting to see the costs involved and what ticket sales were needed to make it a success. Agreeing with her Tony Rogers added: “I think they’ve got it wrong with the funding.” Michael Peet suggested organisers should use the town centre car park instead and also Rosemary’s Gardens.

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