LYMINGTON Town Band are brassed off with being banned from giving outdoor concerts after people complained they were breaking Covid-19 rules.
The musicians said they had initially been given permission by Lymington and Pennington Town Council to perform near the bandstand at the park in Bath Road. Their first performance had even been attended by the mayor, Cllr Anne Corbridge.
The band maintained social distancing and kept several hundred yards away from the audience during the two sessions they put on in July and this month.
Two more performances were planned during August – including one tomorrow (Saturday) to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.
But band chair Paul Douglas said he was stunned to be emailed “out of the blue” by the town council saying that following complaints further performances had been banned.
“People had really enjoyed our concerts, saying how wonderful it was to be able to listen to live music again during such a difficult time,” said Mr Douglas.
“We had sought the permission of the town council and been granted it. We observed all social distancing rules and made sure we were far away from the crowd that had gathered.”
But after the band’s second performance, the council, which owns the park, changed its mind after reassessing.
Mr Douglas said: “We had an email saying that due to criticism received that we were not complying with government guidelines, we were not able to go ahead with any more performances.
“I am absolutely gutted. We were really looking forward to VJ Day especially. We had a melody of big band Glen Miller songs and a guest singer who was going to do a tribute to Vera Lynn.”
He believed the band had been following Covid-19 restrictions, saying: “It is confusing because the rules have changed several times.
“We believe we did follow the measures anyway, which include all musicians staying three metres apart and reducing the size of the band.”
The ban was “especially galling”, he said, because Lymington Seafood Festival is due to take place at the site at the end of August, at which there will be live bands playing.
Mr Douglas said: “They are allowed to because they are not brass bands and so apparently do not pose a risk.”
After announcing the ban on social media he received several messages of support, with one writing: “This is such a shame.
“Your performances bring such pleasure when we can all do with something to cheer us up. Shame on the person who complained, what a miserable killjoy.”
But others supported the council, saying the band had broken the rules. One person wrote: “It was a lovely idea but felt like a huge slap in the face when guidelines were being broken.”
In a statement, Lymington and Pennington Town Council said it had had no choice but to stop the band from playing.
It said: “Unfortunately at this current time brass and wind instruments are not permitted to play in public following 11th July guidance.
“Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments in groups or in front of an audience is limited to professionals only, and that is what restricts Lymington Town Band from being able to play to the public as they are an amateur band.”
The council said other bands are allowed to play under government guidelines, and several are due to play at the bandstand in the coming weeks.