Local and Live 2012

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Friday, and now our local weekly paper has come out it seems that the “TW Festival” was an excuse by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to test what would happen if this road closure was made permanent. While the thought of another pedestrianized area may be nice,the other thoughts are the impact on our already over stretched roads, and on the shops further out of the town centre. Aspects of the Festival were pleasant, but the main part was a market, and the town already has two markets, in the Pantiles and Civic Way. Both areas have places nearby for unloading vans and storage of stalls. So what would we be using the pedestrianized area for? We have Calverley Road already, with a few cafes and benches, and little atmosphere, and the disaster of an area by the Millennium clock.

The local weekly paper also made pedestrianization it’s lead story. The other story is, that all over the town lots of people volunteered time and effort to host both “TW Festival” and “Local and Live”, as well as Camden Road “Arts Alive” and Pembury “Willfest”. These are just a very few of the events held in the town through out the year that rely on the good will of others to make things happen. This photo is Monday afternoon on the Pantiles, as people enjoy “Local and Live”. This pedestrianized area has been here since 1684, and was an important part of promenading while taking the waters. It was made with a purpose. Good to see we can still enjoy the area now!


27 thoughts on “Local and Live 2012

  1. Totally agree about pedestrianisation. Without major reinvestment in other areas it’s pure folly to assume that what closing a couple of roads has achieved in a heavily publicised (supposed) ‘Festival’ could be an ongoing boost for town centre trade and/or tourism.

    Personally, I’m also dubious about the whole street trading thing, and having stalls with greatly reduced overheads charging over the odds prices for products that could be bought from existing traders who are paying the ‘full whack’ to trade and still coming out cheaper… That seems illogical in every sense of the word to a black and white thinker like me.

    Finally, I think a privately organised carnival, however it is dressed up, has a distinctly dodgy whiff about it. We used to have a regular carnival in TW with streets closed for a full procession including floats from numerous local businesses, all raising money for charities. TWBC vetoed that, but now seem to be bending over backwards to accommodate something very similar for a local golden boy who gets the whole pie to himself. Is it just me, or does that pie smell very much like one of the ‘fisherman’s’ variety to anyone else?

    • Very good points: would smaller shops close and take on market stalls instead? Also a pity that parades, such as Scouts St Georges Day parade, were not held this year, due to high policing costs.

  2. Oh, PS: I went to L&L for two of the four nights, and while I never ventured ‘up top’ of town it appears, from the photos I have seen of what effectively seems to have been a farmer’s market, that L&L, erm, wee-weed all over the festival. I sincerely hope L&L is supported again next year, but frankly couldn’t give a monkey’s either way for the festival in its current format whoever appears to be footing the bill…

  3. Lacking in press coverage was the fact that alot of people I know were helping at TW Festival, for free, running children’s activities in the grounds of Trinity, magic performances in the streets, music and dance by the clock. So there was more than a market, but the market was the most obvious part.

  4. The ad on the radio (regarding the ‘festival’) boldy asked: Tunbridge Wells, are you ready? Erm, ready for what exactly? I went, very briefly, to the ‘festival’ and all I basically saw was a market with a few side shows and a huge inflatable pig – what was that all about?!! I had no idea there were things happening at Trinity or in other places as there was little information available. The whole thing had a market atmosphere, not one of a festival and my kids were not interested in this ‘family fun day’ (as I heard it advertised somewhere) at all. On the other hand, we also went to Local and Live and we all loved it, the atmosphere was fun, friendly and chilled and the music superb.

    The Pantiles has a lot of locals who volunteer a lot of time and effort to hold this and other events there, and they are always well supported. The town needs people like this and the local paper should have mentioned this and given them more recognition. Maybe if the ‘festival’ was organised by people who know and love the town, and not by those who have their own agenda, it would be more successful? The top end of town has a lot to learn from The Pantiles and those who organise the events there…

    • Having responded to oddly active I suppose it’s only fair that I put something on your post. Do you know the festival organisers and do you have evidence to support your comment that the festival was organised by people with their own agenda and not by people who know and love the town?

  5. That’s interesting as I never heard the ad, or saw a newspaper ad. Some twitterati were in Trinity, which is the only way I picked up on it, and they did say they felt left out as there was no signage to them – you did need to be in Church Rd or York Rd to see it. So I think if the TW Festival gets a chance again it has a lot of lessons to learn!

  6. TWFestival -we need to remember the festival was ‘new’ and yes it failed to meet up to alot of the hype. But lets not forget it was a 1st attempt, and alot of people invested time,money and hours into it…i know many that enjoyed the weekend and the fun friendly atmosphere it created. Local & Live – i didnt visit this but have heard many talk postively about it….the festival will im sure get better with each year, each time learning more about what works. There was alot of ‘fun stuff’ – kiddies corner, dancers, singers, magicians – but maybe the stalls hid this. The central area should’ve been given to this and surrounding areas housed stalls – think this would’ve helped.
    Pedestrianisation – how about we focus on clearing the ‘chuggers’ from the pedestrianised Calverley Rd, impose a ban on people using the benches for getting drunk & generally causing a nuisance. Then if the council still have funds to spare – reduce the extortionate parking prices. Many retailers lose sales beacuse people dont want to pay for longer parking. Ive lost count of the number of sales we’ve lost midway when someone remembers their parking ticket is about to expire!..In a town with numerous empty units, the councils greed with parking charges just doesnt help – why pay to park here with less shops when you can drive out of town, park for less/free and not worry about the parking warden pouncing on your car with a penalty notice for being a minute late?! So no, def dont think we need more pedestrianised areas – we need to look at how to allow people to feel they can shop for longer, explore the town and not rush in and out due to parking issues.

    • On parking, I couldn’t agree more (and contacted the council Chief Executive about this last year). It is almost as if the council powers have never visited other towns to see how things work there.

      Almost every other major shopping town has “pay on exit” parking – so you take a ticket when you arrive, have no time pressure, stay as long as you like at the shops, then pay at the end.

      Tunbridge Wells has “pay and display” – so people try to guess how long they will need, try to avoid “wasting” money by buying too long, then rush around the shops before their time expires. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that this isn’t exactly good for having people hang around and shop for longer!

  7. Agree with lots of oddlyactive’s and Amanda’s comments above.

    TW Festival seemed to be a private carnival and self promotion opportunity for the guy that bankrolled it. That sports car parked outside Body Shop – his car, and he made great show of revving the engine as he departed in it on Sunday evening. That left a pretty sour taste – it just seemed like a huge ego trip.

    Given that Local & Live has been going for a few years now, with no agendas other than wanting to put on a great show – I think it deserved more positive attention from council and local press than it got. Sure, Paul Dunton was able to get his message out there, but TW Festival had council and press acting like a virtual propaganda machine.

    After the event, it really feels now like Local & Live is the “little guy”, trying to promote itself amongst all the “noise” around TW Festival. Since L&L was there first, that doesn’t seem right.

    • Ben, I think its worth noting that while L and L may seem like the “little guy” in all of this, its actually a private festival run to make money for the organisers, all be it showcasing local talent along the way. The TW Festival, the brainchild of Steven Mason is a non profit making event that was run to benefit 5 local charities as well as the surrounding businesses that in some cases tripled their takings. As a representative of one of the beneficiary charities as well as a staunch supporter of L and L, I can’t see why both events can’t continue side by side in the future.

      • Just to say – I saw a friend today who helped at “Local and Live” and he thinks there is currently no profit being made from the event. I suggest we stop this line of commenting, as figures are really for the organisers of both events to look into, and not for us to speculate.

  8. Yes, there is probably room for both events, but some recognition of the work gone into “Local and Live” would have been good in the paper, and the “TW Festival” maybe to review it’s role and purpose.

  9. Hi all/wellswill –

    Glad your charity benefited from the festival and that some local businesses got a boost from the event, but I still think it would be folly to assume that one bank holiday weekend – especially when there were effectively two big events going on in different parts of the town – can provide a viable model for town improvements as costly and far reaching as the pedestrianisation being suggested.

    I also think the impact on other local businesses whose overheads go beyond the cost of an awning and payment for a ‘pitch’ might be less positive in the long term than you suggest, especially if they’re competing for the same trade… I don’t know what was on offer from the ‘market’, but would hazard a guess that overpriced cupcakes and ‘farm fresh’ meat products were a big part of it, and I wonder how that might have effected trade in the nearby butchers and bakers? More importantly, what would be the long-term effects of pedestrianisation for those businesses WITHOUT the added shoppers brought in by the twin events?

    Finally, I think it would be naive to assume that Stephen Mason’s sponsorship was entirely altruistic. I’m very sceptical, if I’m honest, regarding free lunches, and while monetary gain might not be the prime motivator I’m sure the potential is there for other personal perks to be accrued that could be every bit as attractive – if not more so – than those garnered by the organisers of L&L. 😀

  10. For the record I didn’t attend TW Festival or L&L, though I have been to the latter in the past. I don’t personally know the organisers of either event and don’t know the financial details. But I do think some of the comments above are out of order.
    The biggest gripe seems to be that the council supported the festival but didn’t support L&L. I attended the proms in the park – now correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the council put that on? And it seemed to be yet another opportunity for self promotion from the organiser of L&L. You can’t open a publication in this town without finding a view on the music scene by the self appointed fifth beatle Paul Dunton. Now this may come as a shock to some of you but not everyone rates him as a writer or a musician. Personally I would hate to think that people outside the town think that he is representative of the TW music scene. But obviously you are a fan and that’s up to you. But leave the rest of us to choose what we want to see and hear. There is room in this town for L&L and the TW Festival – so get over it.

  11. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? It seems as though this person oddly active can say what he or she likes about the guy that ran the festival, but you won’t allow any criticism of Paul Dunton. That’s worrying – are you going to allow my views or do I have to post elsewhere.

    • I’m sorry if I didn’t make any comment to your previous comments, I was out. I’ve just been to Jam Night at a pub in Tunbridge Wells (The Black Horse), My actual first comment on this blog was the lack of thanks “The Courier” gave to everyone in the town for all their work during that weekend; and how they reported the event as a “traffic experiment” I would like both events, but on separate weekends, but that’s just my view as someone who would like to see things at both. There have been several weekends this year where two major events have clashed, followed by two/three weekends with nothing on.

      • I agree – a lot of people apparently put in a great deal of hard work for both events and I think it’s a pity they didn’t get more support from the paper and the people who have been so negative online. However I can’t say I agree with the statement they should be on different weekends. August Bank Holiday is probably the most important summer weekend and families like to go out. I don’t see that L&L should have the monopoly for that time and there are a considerable number of people, myself included, that don’t want to spend that weekend on the Pantiles. I was away this year but had I been here I would have had a look at the Festival and made up my own mind. But I don’t need anyone telling me what I can or can’t watch.

  12. Hi all/Jack –

    Jack, have any of your comments been deleted? Has your ‘freedom of speech’ been compromised? I’m just asking because as far as I can see all of your comments have been approved (though obviously I wouldn’t see any that weren’t approved) and if that IS the case then what’s your problem?

    As far as I can see the difference between your posts and ‘this person oddly active’s’ (that’s me, folks!) is that ‘this person oddly active’ isn’t attacking straw men to shore up inconsistent logic and isn’t making any direct accusations of profiteering!

    FWIW I did NOT say that the motives of the organisers of L&L are ‘entirely altruistic’ or even suggest it! I have no idea what motivates either Stephen Mason OR Paul Dunton. If you know either of them intimately enough to be able to say, or have intimate knowledge of the profit/loss accounts for either or both events, then you’re in a much better position than me to comment, but if you don’t then the advice that Sam Nesbitt offered would seem completely appropriate.

    Whether you ‘rate’ Paul Dunton’s music or not (or whether I do, or whether the writer of this blog does…) is a moot point, because L&L was a three day event offering a very diverse range of local music and local musicians. That Paul Dunton has organised that for the past seven(?) years and works hard promoting it is an equally moot point…

    Here, to reiterate, is what I have said so far:

    1) Pedestrianisation of that part of town is, IMO, a bad idea for a variety of reasons stated above.

    2) It would be silly to ‘guess’ what was motivating either of the individuals promoting/sponsoring the events – as Wells will appeared to be – or to speculate that in either case it was as simple and black and white as Money OR altruism.

    3) I am suspicious of free lunches – whoever it is offering them – and I think it’s a matter for concern if local authorities SEEM uncharacteristically to be bending over backwards to accommodate them…

    That’s it. That’s all I’ve said. If you’ve read anything else into what I’ve said then i’ll try to clarify if you can give me clear indications of your concerns. That aside, I think it would be unreasonable to ‘hijack’ Carolyn’s blog to speculate further on the motivations or profit and loss accounts of people neither of us seem to know particularly well.


  13. Very nice little post and highly commendable if you read it on its own and don’t read back over your earlier comments.
    Carolyn’s blog seemed to me a very sensible discussion about potential pedestrianisation of part of the town centre. You were the one that hijacked it in your first post by attacking the whole concept of the festival. Your comments regarding TWBC and the “local golden boy” are at best offensive and at the worst libellous.
    Also you claim not to know any of the parties involved and yet you are ready to attack someone who seems to me was prepared to put his hand in his pocket and do something positive for our town. Let’s keep the discussion even-handed. I was merely pointing out that there are many people in this area that don’t like L&L and are equally suspicious of Paul Dunton’s motives, but in the six or seven years that it has been running I have never seen so many vitriolic and unsupportive comments from a small band of people.
    How about supporting both events, or if you don’t let’s keep it to a sensible discussion and leave out the personal jibes about people we don’t know. 🙂

  14. Thank you everyone who has commented. I suggest we end here after a week of discussion, thanks for your comments, on a variety of matters; which just shows everyone has their own opinions on everything, and everyone is entitled to them! Everyone who has made a comment automatically gets an email alert, and their comment approved without me getting to read it, so for all our sakes: Case closed!

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