County chiefs legal threat to organisers of Wickham Festival

James Blunt: headlining this year's Wickham Festival

James Blunt: headlining this year's Wickham Festival

First published in News

HAMPSHIRE civic chiefs threatened legal action against the organisers of a music festival over the spread of potentially dangerous roadside signs.

The county council has been growing concerned that signs for the annual Wickham Festival were becoming a hazard as they block sightlines.

The council was seeking an injunction against the festival in a hearing at Winchester Law Courts.

It was dropped at the last minute after the festival agreed to tackle the problem.

County Councillor Sean Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “The council generally adopts a pragmatic approach to temporary signing on the highway for local events, but we will act to remove signs where they are causing a safety issue, such as blocking sight lines.

“In recent years the scale and proliferation of signs across south Hampshire for the Wickham Festival has led to complaints seeking removal of unauthorised signs and additional cost for the Highways Service.

“Therefore we tried to secure a commitment from the organiser earlier this year with regard to unauthorised signs across south Hampshire. When this was not agreed by Wickham Festivals we were reluctantly forced to initiate formal legal proceedings, which were then halted when the festival organisers came forward with proposals which met our requirements, and they have given a formal undertaking not to place signs on land forming part of the public highway, and to promptly remove any that do appear, entirely at their own cost in the future.”

Peter Chegwyn, director of Wickham Festivals and also a Liberal Democrat county councillor, said the out of court settlement was amicable but he said the council has now set a precedent.

“The council is opening up a hornets’ nest. I don’t think we can be singled out for special treatment. If they crack down on us they have to crack down on everyone, the villages fetes and agricultural shows “This makes it harder for everyone to promote themselves as they have in the past.”

The festival on August 14-17 is heading for a 7,000-ticket sell-out with James Blunt due to headline, along with the Lightning Seeds, Steve Earle and Bellowhead.

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