Rhythms of the World return ‘must be organised better and earlier’

PUBLISHED: 11:21 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:22 12 September 2018

Rhythms of the World. Picture: ROTW

Rhythms of the World. Picture: ROTW

Archant

Hitchin stands firmly behind the return of the Rhythms of the World festival, but it must be organised better and earlier – that was the message from councillors last night.

Rhythms of the World trustee John Brierley. Picture: ROTWRhythms of the World trustee John Brierley. Picture: ROTW

After a two-year hiatus, the much-anticipated August 11 revival of Rhythms – a fixture of the Hitchin calendar since 1992 – had to be called off in July after licensing objections from police and a district council environmental health officer.

Addressing the district council’s Hitchin committee at Westmill Community Centre, Rhythms trustee John Brierley said a £3,756 grant the committee had given in June to help fund the 2018 event had been “ringfenced” ahead of plans for next year.

He said the Rhythms team was set to meet police on Monday to discuss what can be attempted for 2019 – for example a ticketed event in Bancroft and Butts Close, or a festival fringe like that held across Hitchin last month, using others’ licences.

He added that instead of starting festival preparations in January, like this year, they are already drawing up the 2019 plans now.

Hitchin Highbury Liberal Democrat councillor Sam Collins. Picture: Paul ClarkHitchin Highbury Liberal Democrat councillor Sam Collins. Picture: Paul Clark

Highbury councillor Sam Collins, of the Liberal Democrat group, said Rhythms “isn’t just something that should happen, it needs to happen,” but that this year the planning was “just not there”. Communication, he said, had been “zero”.

“We need to have Rhythms of the World, but it needs to be properly organised,” said Mr Collins.

“We’re here to help you. We can’t have this situation with a last-minute rush. It just wasn’t good enough.”

Veteran Labour councillor Judi Billing, who represents Bearton, told Mr Brierley that in the past the Rhythms team had defeated environmental health objections about noise only “because of incredibly early preparations and knowing what the score was”.

Hitchin Bearton Labour councillor Judi Billing. Picture: Herts LabourHitchin Bearton Labour councillor Judi Billing. Picture: Herts Labour

“I just put out a plea,” she said. “Start early and ask us for help that we may be able to give in different ways.”

Fellow Bearton councillor Ian Albert, who chairs the Labour-run committee, stressed to Mr Brierley that they as councillors were keen to “stand with you on this” and help create “a fantastic Rhythms of the World”.

The committee decided to let Rhythms keep the £3,756 grant for the time being as the festival team continues to plan for 2019.

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