Category Archives: Wisbech Town Park
Rock Festival Wash Up
I know, I know. Every year I write up the Rock Festival and talk about how hard work it was but how well it went. That’s because it is always hard work and it does always seem to go pretty well. And when a small group of people work so hard to put something great on for our town its worth talking about, I think, even if its a bit repetitive.
Wisbech Town Council aspire to do our events a little bit better each year. We watch what works and build on it. We watch what doesn’t work so well and enact plans to prevent or reduce that problem the following year. This means that each year things run a little more smoothly. But there’s no getting around the sheer volume of the work.
The whole thing takes several months of meetings, planning and organisation to get set. Then the actual setup of the event begins on the Saturday night, when Councillors and volunteers meet up to get some of the early work done in time for the morning; getting dozens of safety barriers to the park, moving the gazebos ready to be set up in the morning (harder work than you might think, these things are heavy and they have weights to hold them down that are heavier.)
Then people arrive early in the morning on the Sunday to begin putting everything in place. There’s a lot to organise. Barriers, first aid tent, stage, traders area, litter bins, portaloos and toilets. All the volunteer stewards are briefed on safety procedures and “what to do’s” in the event of various possible issues.
Once the event begins, stewards (who have already been working for four hours at that point) then have to spend some nine hours keeping on top of things. Constantly picking up litter (otherwise it accumulates in a grim way and the place looks like a bomb has hit it), helping reunite lost children with worried parents, unblocking toilets, diffusing any potential disputes between individuals, handing out free water to people if there is a worry that the heat might be a problem, directing people to things, dealing with first aid issues and generally keeping the event running safety and smoothly. The park is split into three “stages” and so stewards are walking all around the park all day, which was in blistering heat this year.
At all times stewards must be upbeat, friendly and happy – because grumpy, hot, tired angry stewards do not add to a successful party atmosphere. Often, as the day wears on and feet start to ache and sunburn gets sore and you’ve just taken your twenty-ninth binbag of rubbish to the skip, remaining positive and smiley can be a little challenging, but our stewards manage it because it really is fun to know you are delivering fun for others.
When the day ends for everybody else, stewards still have three more hours “clearing up” to do. Putting back all those metal barriers and gazebos and weights, clearing all the rest of the litter, loading it all into vans and getting it back into storage. Everybody is shattered by the end.
I think most people know this but I do think its worth stressing that every single one of our stewards, whether they are Councillors or friends, are all volunteers. Nobody gets paid a penny. It is not part of anybody’s “job.” They turn up and give their time and energy for free, to deliver this event to people who love it.
In my opinion, this year was probably the best ever Rock Festival. It’s true that there was a fight at the Dance Stage, brought about by some inter-family drama and (I suspect) the use of alcohol and substances some of them brought with them. But it was handled smoothly by stewards and the Police and did not detract from the overall event – in fact most people didn’t know it had happened at all. It is not possible for any event to have zero incidents, the mark of good organisation is the correct handling of the situation. David Oliver’s team and the stewards went precisely by the book and the scuffle was contained and diffused.
Councillors David and Jess Oliver handle safety for the whole event and were brilliant.
Cllr Garry Tibbs, who compered the whole event, has pretty much secured the role forever. He just has a Rock n’ Roll voice :) But despite his new celebrity, he was still litter picking and loading with the rest of us lowly steward minions. :) :)
Gary Read and his sound team are always awesome and this was particularly true this year – I don’t think I’ve ever heard Rock Festival sound so good.
All the many Councillors and volunteers worked their socks off. I wont name them all because I will forget some but I would like to mention Trevor Ketteringham (always tireless and hard-working) and Cllr. Andrew Lynn and most particularly David Gutteridge (The Viking) whose new First Aid qualification was put to good use and who worked so hard at the Dance Stage for most of the day.
Obviously – huge thanks to all the acts on all three stages who entertained so many people for so long.
The stalls and fair were great.
The Mayor, Cllr Peter Human, and his family were absolute troopers. Despite having to make a long, hot Mayoral appearance, he was still there in the dark at the end loading things into vans.
My Mum and Stepdad and my Son Joe were just great.
Our Town Clerk Terry, and Susanah Farmer, were also there for the entire event working above and beyond the call of duty.
But most of all my hat goes off to Cllr. Sam Hoy who is the lead person and main organiser of the event and who, once again, with the help of all the people I have named and probably quite a few I forgot to name (sorry!) delivered an incredible success.
Joe At The Rock Festival
I told my Son on Friday that now he is thirteen it is time to give something back to the community and that he should come help with Rock Festival for the day.
I expected him to find reasons not to do it, but was very pleased that he immediately agreed.
So it was that he rose at the crack of dawn on a Sunday during school Summer Holidays and came out for fifteen hours of hard work.
He was helping set up at the outset, spent the day picking litter and stewarding and pitching in 100% and was still there in the darkness, when the crowds had all gone home, alongside the other volunteers packing down gazebos and lifting metal railings into stacks.
He didn’t complain once, just worked alongside everybody until the very end.
When you add in my Mum and Stepdad, there were three generations of our family working at the event. I am extremely proud of my Son for joining the crazy family tradition of volunteering. Well done, Joe.
Wisbech Rock Festival 2018
Refurbished Town Park Bandstand
The Mayoress and I joined Cllr Peter Murphy, Cllr Viv McRae, Cllr Carol Cox, Mr Peter Humphreys, plus users of the St. Augustines Day Centre and other local people for the grand opening of the Wisbech Town Park Bandstand.
The project featured involvement from various local groups and was funded by WREN, s106 Money from Fenland District Council and with design assistance from Peter Humphreys.
The bandstand looks amazing. It took a while due to a series of manufacturing delays, but it was well worth the wait. It is now the highlight of the park and looks incredible.
Thanks to Roy McManus for his lovely music, which everybody enjoyed. Also thanks to Franks for the refreshments. A very pleasant afternoon and a brilliant new feature for our town.
(Photos courtesy of Lynne Gillings. Cheers!)
The Brinks Festival, Colour Run, 2017
The Colour Run is a part of the Brinks Festival.https://www.thebrinksfestival.org/ This morning I joined a huge group of other mad people to run 5K around Wisbech Park in the blazing sun while other people threw paint at us. I seemed to get a LOT of paint, which may have had something to do with the MC shouting: “There’s the Mayor, GET HIM” or words to that effect throughout the event. :) :)
It was enormous fun. The whole thing served as a reminder of how unfit I am :) Well done to everybody else though, I wish I could have kept up with you better! But I did get to the finish line, so that’ll do for now ;) ;)
WCP – Brief Update 2/9/16
Two more Wisbech Citizens’ patrol walks over the last couple of days.
We were out late last night with two teams. It was very very quiet, even for Wisbech. A nice evening though so we enjoyed the walk, but saw few people anywhere. Norfolk Street, the Park, the Port, the Memorial Garden, Tillery Fields, Church Gardens – all deserted. We picked up a lot of litter though, so the time wasn’t wasted.
Today we were out again for a lunchtime walk. Town was quite busy, lots of people going about their business. Teams covered all the usual areas and also some roads and areas we’d been asked to look at by the public. We saw a young man doing some amazing parkour. We also thought the the FDC contractors working on the town flower displays were doing amazing work. The gardens look beautiful at the moment. Picking litter, resolving minor issues, but nothing major to report.
Thank you, as ever, to the volunteers.
100 new homes planned for Wisbech Park
Plans to put up 100 new homes in Wisbech Park were announced this week.
But don’t panic – the wide open spaces aren’t about to be concreted over. This scheme is strictly one for the birds, with the aim being to install 100 new bird boxes there.
It has been dreamed up to tie in with the Royal Horticultural Society’s “It’s Your Neighbourhood” initiative and is part of Wisbech In Bloom’s campaign for Britain in Bloom this year.
The idea arose from a casual conversation between Bob Ollier, Fenland District Council’s parks and open spaces manager, and David Edwards, a member of the Friends of Wisbech Park.
And this week (February 23) the two men joined with FDC councillors, members of the Friends and In Bloom groups and a representative of ISS, the council’s horticultural contractors, to launch the scheme.
Mr Ollier said: “We’ve got around 250 trees in the park and our aim is to put 100 new bird boxes up on them. To do that, we’re looking for local organisations, shops, garden centres and members of the public to donate boxes.
“The idea is that each donor will have a box with their name on it which will be put up on one of the trees. They will then be able to keep an eye on the birds that move in and occupy it.”
Mr Edwards is planning to contact all the local schools and other organisations to encourage them to join in with the project.
Councillor Peter Murphy, FDC’s Cabinet member responsible for the environment, said: “This is a brilliant idea. It’s so simple but it gives lots of people the chance to get involved with the park and do their little bit for it. I hope it really catches on.”
Wisbech Rock Festival 2014
We all rolled up at the crack of dawn – or some unearthly time on a Sunday that felt like the crack of dawn – ready to set up the Rock Festival. And when I say “we all” I obviously am not referring to any lazy, inept or just plain bone idle “never shows” whose idea of being a Councillor is getting their face in the paper quite often. No, I am referring to the people who turn out, time after time, without fail, in any weather. Sam Hoy, Garry Tibbs, David Oliver and his whole Family, Michelle Tanfield, Reg Mee, Stephen Brunton, Jonathan & Susannah Farmer, Hannah Campagna, Aigers Balsevics and his Eastern European Volunteer Team.
But disaster struck. The rain was pounding down, the skies were black, we were all drenched and everybody was hoping that maybe, just maybe, all those dire weather forecasts were wrong and it might brighten up. We set up the stage, the barriers, the PA guys were hard at work wiring the sound system.
Come Eleven-Thirty the rain had been joined by a powerful wind. Most of the stalls hadn’t shown up and the fairground guys – who provide the power for us all – were concerned they were going to get stranded in the mud. It wasn’t looking good and then the death knell sounded when the safety team advised that it was now too dangerous to proceed. Although the P.A. was fairly waterproof, the band’s equipment would not be. The wind was blowing the rain straight onto the stage leading to risks of electrocution and slippery surfaces. Drenched and tired already, we had to face the fact that we could not proceed and would have to cancel.
A brief discussion led by Sam Hoy resulted in our deciding to try and move to an inside venue. It was incredibly short notice and there were thousands of pounds worth of kit to be moved. But cancelling meant losing the investment in the entire event and letting the music lovers of Wisbech down. A number of major venues were complete wash-outs, no pun intended, their bureaucracy or risk aversion meaning we couldn’t move there. (Their loss, I feel.) We got a generous offer from The Woodmans, in Gorefield, who deserve praise for saying: “Bring it all here, we’ll make it happen.” And we would have done, but it was a little far out to be sure the public would all get there. Luckily, the Queen Mary Centre stepped up and offered their venue even at this incredible short notice.
Suddenly we were all rushing around, breaking down the equipment we’d already set up, loading things into cars and lorries and anything with wheels and an engine. How on Earth we managed to shift everything from the Town Park to the QMC in an hour I will never know. Unbelievable awesome volunteers, I think, were the solution – alongside the most professional, helpful and reasonable sound system guys it has ever been my pleasure to meet and work with.
Social Media came to life – with Facebook lighting up with news of the move. All the forums and discussion boards were helpful, particularly “Wisbech Oh Dear” and the Wisbech Discussion Forum. John Elworthy got the move publicised on the Wisbech Standard’s website which was excellent. Twitter crackled and buzzed with the news.
And at about 2PM the opening power chords of Kamikaze Hotshots boomed from the mighty speakers through a busy and excited hall at the Queen Mary Centre. It was time to rock.
I don’t think I have ever experienced quite such a positive vibe at a Wisbech event as was evident throughout the day. The bands were really varied, from the slick rock n’ rollers of Gifford to the country folk rock of Rattleshack. From the smooth delivery of The Merlins to the “in your face” rebel rock of Death Radio. On the internet, the buzz was excellent with attendees saying how much they were enjoying the day. The only sour note was a tiny handful of moaners – most of whom were not in attendance – the same people who can always be counted on to moan about everything everywhere. Their grumpy grumbling was broadly drowned out, which I think is a good thing. There are some folks who are just not happy until others are unhappy.
The free face-painting was much enjoyed by the young and older alike. I even had my own face painted with a bolt of lightning over my eye and some letters and words that tickled me at the time.
The Mayor, Michael Hill, and his lovely wife Jane, both stayed for the entire day. They were such good sports and later in the event both could be seen wearing the Wisbech Rock Festival T-Shirts with their chains over the top. When the compère pointed this out they got a massive cheer from the audience. Some other towns may have Mayors who wouldn’t be seen having fun at an event like this – but Wisbech has always been pretty good at finding Mayors who aren’t afraid to have a bit of fun with the people who live here.
Cllr Stephen Brunton, our St. John’s Ambulance First Aider, who gives up his free time to keep people safe and well and can always be counted on to help at town events. On this day he helped a young lady who was taken suddenly ill, several other minor abrasions – and a Staffy dog which ran in from the thunder after having apparently bolted in the storm. (Dog was successfully returned to his owner after being calmed down and given a bowl of water.)
Hannah Campagna with Drew Cameron. Hannah, a newcomer to the Festivals Committee, handled the P.A. and sound people as well as so much more. Her knowledge, experience and commitment to the town are second-to-none.
It is a shame I do not have a picture of Aigers Balsevics – proprietor of The Angel, the King’s Head and the Three Tuns. Because he deserves to be recognised for doing so much to make the day a success. Unfortunately, since he never stops moving and working long enough, nobody has a lens fast enough to catch him. But trust me when I tell you that this man and his never-ending team of Eastern European volunteers are quite simply awesome. We could not have made this happen without them.
What happened on this miserably wet Sunday was out of our hands. We were already soaked and would have been happy to press on for whatever crowd braved the weather in wellies and macs but once the safety people said “no” that was that. Except that from the ashes of potential disaster rose an off-the-cuff, last minute, scrabbled and rushed and thrown together replacement. It wasn’t ideal, but we made the best of what we had and my goodness if it didn’t all work out rather well. The day was a triumph and it was an absolutely thrill and a pleasure to have played some small part in it. My hat goes off to all those wonderful volunteers who just would not give up, and to the organisers who rolled with the punches and came up swinging. To the bands who played so well and entertained us so thoroughly. And to the fine people of Wisbech who turned up, danced, sang and made merry until night fell. More power to you!
Have Your Cake And Eat it
I enjoyed the letter in the Wisbech Standard today from the collective “opposition” on Wisbech Town Council. If anybody ever wondered what the difference was between Independents, Labour and the Lib Dems on the Town Council, the answer is “none whatsoever” apparently, given that these supposedly disparate parties all seem to be singing from the same hymnsheet. What’s truly horrible is that I agree with some of what they say – but there are some distinct differences between their position and my own.
So what are their demands?
Well, first they are angry about the 35% increase in the Town Council’s precept. As a town taxpayer I did not support it either. But we need to put it into perspective. You notice they quote the percentage rather than the amount? This is because the percentage sounds scary. The actual physical amount it adds up to does not sound quite as terrifying. But it is fair to say that in these hard-pressed times any additional amount must be seriously considered. And as those collective lefties on the town council know it was seriously considered. After all they were there for the debate. They also know that the people of Wisbech were asked to vote on some aspects of it in the local press and came out strongly in favour of the two instances of what they call “high spending.” There is something truly ironic about the Left arguing against higher spending when it is all they did for thirteen years when they, and their ideological pals, were in power. It’s interesting that they aren’t actually opposing the work that is planned for the town market square, or even saving the toilets, but simply the spending. Shades of my favourite Magic Money Tree ™ transplanted to Wisbech?
The second thing they seem opposed to is the Bramley Line. Of course, as ever, they don’t say they are opposed to the Bramley Line because that would require taking a position rather than just generic griping. In fact they say: “We all dream of a Railway line for Wisbech.” But then go on to moan about the money being spent to acquire the lease and prevent the possibility being lost forever. Now again, I share some of their views. I haven’t yet seen a business case for the railway I can get behind – but they are forgetting one thing. The Town Council asked the people of Wisbech to vote on the issue. And they did. Overwhelmingly in favour of spending the money to save the line. So when they talk about the “actual needs of Wisbech residents” they clearly don’t mean the needs as expressed by those people, because if they did they would surely have to support the spending? What they apparently mean are the “actual needs of Wisbech residents as we would like to imagine them.” Which is all well-and-good, if a little bossy, but should be stated more clearly so that people don’t mistakenly think they are worried about their actual opinions.
Finally, they moan about the town toilets having been saved (again, without actually opposing the policy.) They think the people of March got a better deal (although, as I understand it, the people of March take a different view…) Now I’ve been clear before that I think the Town Council’s intervention to save the toilets was a fantastic move. I don’t claim to speak for everyone in Wisbech in the way they they are convinced they do, but almost every person I have spoken to is supportive of the policy. The people of the town value our wonderful Town Park and know that on hot days when families are out in the sun, and teenagers are kicking and throwing balls about, and kids are zooming down the slide and clambering on the climbing frame and queueing up to buy ice-cream from that happy chap in the van – people need a place to pee! I’m sorry to be blunt, but there it is.
I would have liked a council tax freeze across the board as much as the next person. But in the end you want your town center spruced-up and made safer or you don’t. You want to keep your public toilets or you don’t. You want to protect the chance of a railway line in the future of you don’t. I think the majority of the people of Wisbech do, and where they’ve been given the opportunity they’ve voted to say so. Yes, it meant an increase of 35% in the precept. I believe that’s about 15p a week on a Band D property. Seems like money well-spent to me. The opposition want to have their cake and eat it. It’s not possible, my friends.