Folk Festival is a valuable asset

SIR - What a strange letter from Mr D Johnson in last week’s Herald! He complains about FolkWeek bringing ‘gangs of undesirables dropping litter’, yet Jan Newsom, on the same page, highlighted the problem of litter dropping arising from the late night opening of Radway Pizza a week after the folkies had gone home.

The main problem with litter, which I witnessed during FolkWeek, was of overflowing bins which EDDC couldn’t always manage to keep up to date with emptying.

He also complains about ‘late night music blasting out disturbing the peace of residents’.

As all the music venues (except the late night extra, which is out of town in the Bulverton Field) have to finish at 11pm. I looked to see which part of town Mr Johnson lived in.

Alas! he had not given his address (Some newspapers do not print letters from correspondents who do not give their addresses. Printing ‘via email’ tells us nothing. One might as well say ‘by hand’ or ‘by Royal Mail’, but I digress). So, we don’t know where this disturbing music was coming from.

Mr Johnson then says that local people have a ‘real fear of crime against themselves and their possessions’, but he does not tell us the basis of this fear.

I suspect that it is not well founded and that he just doesn’t like people who do not dress as he does.

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This year, we had some house guests who had never been to a folk festival before, but had been encouraged by some mutual (non folkie) friends to experience the ‘wonderful atmosphere’ of Sidmouth during FolkWeek.

After a couple of days, one of them said to me, “They’re just regular people, wearing peculiar clothes!”

I have been coming to Sidmouth Folk Festival since 1971 and eventually moved here four years ago and I have never, in all those years, been frightened for my person or my belongings.

It would seem from the news reports in this paper that most frightening incidents in Sidmouth take place after Carina’s Nite Club has closed on a Saturday or Sunday morning during the rest of the year.

I am also interested in Mr Johnson’s statement that ‘the majority of Sidmouth residents do not want, or support, FolkWeek’. How does he know? Has he carried out a survey of the total electorate? Or has he just spoken to a few friends and acquaintances and has decided to stir up discontent based upon his own prejudices? In the past, I have heard a councillor state that FolkWeek brings vital publicity to the town which would cost �1m to buy.

There may have been some hyperbole, but there is no doubt at all that the Folk Festival is an extremely valuable asset to the town and our councillors know that very well.

They spend our money on things which will benefit Sidmouth and they have been elected and re-elected on this premise.

The Folk Festival has been here since 1955. Mr Johnson should have got used to it by now! Or is he a Johnny/Johnson come lately, who wants to change the town he has moved to?

Paul Belay


Compton Road,