Willow Fest petition hits 5,500 as row over funding continues

A petition to keep the Willow Festival at the Embankment has been signed by 5,500 people as the row over the popular music festival refuses to die down.

Wednesday, 1st June 2016, 8:11 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st June 2016, 9:13 am
Willow Festival 2014 at Embankment. Crowds enjoying the event

The backlash over Peterborough City Council’s decision to stop the festival from being held at the Embankment has prompted the authority to issue a statement defending its actions.

Conversely, event organiser Mark Ringer has said he will release email correspondence with council officials to generate sympathy from councillors and the public.

He has also called for the resignations of council leader Councillor John Holdich and Annette Joyce, the council’s service director: city services and communications.

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Mr Ringer said: “We are putting a report together so we can show councillors what is being said by their department is incorrect. We will also make it public.”

Mr Ringer also suggested he will go to governmental organisations to force the council to relent on its decision not to hire out the Embankment.

He added: “The council can say whatever it likes, but it works for the benefit of the public and what they are doing is in nobody’s benefit. There are other organisations above the council and we will send the report to them.”

Mr Ringer said he had tried to pay the money asked by the council to use the Embankment but that it was refused.

The council said it would not respond to Mr Ringer’s call for resignations, and it wrote on its website that residents with queries should contact organisers directly to ask why they have not paid the £4,500 hire fee.

The statement added: “It’s a great shame this event isn’t happening but this is solely in the hands of the organisers.”

Mr Ringer said he was still hopeful of the event from July 8 to July 10 going ahead at the Embankment and that he had back-up options. However, he said he could not guarantee that the festival would take place.

The petition, entitled ‘Save The Willow Fest Cambs 2016’, was started by Tanya Collier and by Thursday afternoon had over 230 signatures.

That total had swelled by yesterday to 5,500.