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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Whitehaven Festival cancelled permanently

Compensation culture has been blamed for the permanent cancellation of Whitehaven Festival.

Gerard Richardson photo
Gerard Richardson

The popular festival, which attracted around 250,000 visitors, had been postponed for this year and has now had the plug pulled for good.

Organiser Gerard Richardson, chief executive of Whitehaven Festival Company, said that the event was “finished” and he could see no way to save it.

“The land space we had available was getting smaller and the fixed costs were getting higher,” said Mr Richardson.

“We were spending more on Health & Safety, medical and security costs than we were on entertainment and the difference was increasing every year as more and more potential risks were highlighted to us.”

“More and more people were threatening to sue us because they were claiming they'd had minor accidents.

“It's the culture we are in.”

Following Mr Richardson’s announcement, fans of the event, which had been going since 1998 and was estimated to have brought in around £40m over the past 15 years, were left devastated.

John Hastings, 40, of Workington, said it was a “fundamental tragedy” for Whitehaven and Cumbria as a whole.

“It’s sad news,” he added.

Lauren Williams, of Lowca, described it as “the only decent event we have every year”.

“[Now] it’s been taken away from us,” she said. “This place is getting ridiculous.”

Another festival fan, Lyndsay Bowman, said it was “unbelievable news”.

“I was the one thing that brought life into Whitehaven,” she said.

“Well done organisers on getting this far with all of your efforts, but like everything else that was ever good in Whitehaven, it never lasts long.”

The festival will be replaced by a number of events throughout the year, including a Home and Garden event, a tall ship visit to the harbour and a music concert at Copeland Athletics Stadium.

Mr Richardson said: “We are developing new events for 2014 which I think have the potential to draw good publicity for the town and more will be revealed later in January.

“We have already announced the first of the events with our main sponsors Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) which is an exhibition and parade to mark the anniversary of the start of World War One.”

Whitehaven WW1 Week will be held in and around town from May 3 to 10 and will include a WWI parade and an exhibition to tell the story of The Great War.

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