THERE are fresh hopes that the Lymington Seafood Festival can return this summer after town councillors agreed use of the Bath Road site for an extra day to allow social distancing.
However, speaking on behalf of the festival organiser Lighthouse Marketing, Richard Nowell admitted the situation was still unknown as New Forest District Council and Hampshire police were not currently granting temporary event licences.
He told a meeting of Lymington and Pennington Town Council’s amenities committee: “The legal time frame for submitting temporary licences is 28 days. When you consider we are already on 6th July, the timing is certainly tight. Whether we will be able to go ahead this year, I am honestly not sure.”
Lymington Seafood Festival will run from Saturday 29th to Monday 31st August on the town’s Bath Road recreation ground, subject to licences and permission.
Mr Nowell added: “I think Boris actually announced this morning that he is going to start looking at events and festivals as almost the final industry in the whole process that will have a date to come back.”
Mr Nowell said changes this year would include attendees having to book tickets for morning or afternoon sessions for a nominal fee so their details could be stored, as well as extra social distancing and sanitising measures. A maximum capacity of 1,500 would also apply to all sessions.
He said: “There is a crux around this number of 30. At the moment 30 people cannot attend a wedding, 30 people can’t go to a social gathering or really do anything together.
“But where does this number 30 come from? Because there are 30 people in Waitrose currently, 30 people attended the Lymington market and more than 30 people were at Paultons Park on the weekend. These are the government guidelines, but the water is muddy – NFDC are getting cloudy guidance.”
A decision over whether to proceed this year would need to be made by the end of July at the latest, said Mr Nowell, who also shared his frustration with national policy.
“The government isn’t looking at events on a case-by-case basis,” he said, continuing: “Glastonbury or the Isle of Wight Festival is a very different proposition to a food festival, pop-up cinema or cultural event.”
Members of the town council’s amenities committee agreed to allow the seafood festival to run over three days instead of the planned two-day event to allow for social distancing measures.