Backing the Rhythms event

SIR - As Chairman of Rhythms of the World I feel I have to respond to last week s letter from an anonymous correspondent printed under the banner Rhythm s Festival is flawed . Whilst it contained a number of comments, its main thrust was the organisers

SIR - As Chairman of Rhythms of the World I feel I have to respond to last week's letter from an anonymous correspondent printed under the banner 'Rhythm's Festival is flawed'. Whilst it contained a number of comments, its main thrust was the organisers of the festival had sold out to the 'great god of greed' and that moving the festival to the Priory was simply a way of the organisers making money.

I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth. ROTW is a registered charity and I, and many others who not only put in hundreds of hours of our own time but also take personal responsibility for the festival, do not receive any payment. That is not changing; the admission charge is to help cover costs of the event and any surplus will be ploughed back into local projects and supporting ROTW 2009.

However, taking responsibility for the festival means just that. Anyone attending the festival in the past few years or so will be aware that litter, crime, underage drinking and anti-social behaviour have become huge issues - not one of ROTW's making but unfortunately reflective of our current society. As organisers we have worked hard, in partnership with police, ambulance and licensing colleagues, to address these issues and to organise a safe and pleasurable event to celebrate the diversity of world and local culture. That is why we have taken the decision to move to the Priory and why we are doing everything we can - including the nominal charge, admission and alcohol polices - to make ROTW 2008 a great and successful cultural celebration.

We are an open organisation and decisions are taken at our open committee meetings - anyone is welcome to get involved and help make it all happen - including your anonymous letter writer. Indeed that is its strength and that is why ROTW will continue to flourish in the future.


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Finally I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have contacted us in the last week to extend their good will, encouragement and support for ROTW 2008.

MATT WYLE

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Chairman ROTW

SIR - I write with dismay at the attitude of a small number of residents of this beautiful town towards the ROTW festival.

I have been an avid supporter of the festival now for 10 years and love it!

Several of my friends volunteer at the festival each year and I'm sure that they will be as disappointed as I am to read the comments printed last week.

Why is your contributor suggesting that the community of Hitchin is "being sold down the river" and accuse the organisers (volunteers) of giving excuses to justify charging the public? The town centre was full to nearly bursting; surely we all saw the evidence! The litter left over was well evident on Monday morning and there was some crime.

I personally think that the organisers have been very brave in moving the festival before it becomes like Notting Hill Carnival. Does your contributor want to see metal detectors to search the audience coming in, police 'snatch squads' parked up ready for action, early curfews on all stages and a litter problem that would daunt any of us? Who would then pay for all of these measures and would they be conducive to a family-friendly atmosphere? NO!!! This would spoil the festival forever!

Having read the rules and regulations that your contributor refers to, they seem to me to be borne out of basic common sense or simply conditions that any licensed premises has to adhere to. I'm sure they are put in place to create a safe, family-friendly atmosphere and to control underage and excessive consumption of alcohol.

Finally I read in disbelief that anyone could think £5 was anything but very good value for money these days! To suggest that the "great god of greed consumes the organisers" at these prices, is simply an insult to their voluntary efforts!

I am looking forward to the festival this year, long may it continue.

P DODDS

Hitchin

SIR - I was thoroughly disappointed to read your 'Festival Flawed' letters in last week's issue.

Do people really believe that Rhythms of the World is out to make profit? The organisation needs to secure itself from running into debt like it did last year, how are they expected to do so and still keep the festival free? It is not possible.

I, too, am disappointed that this year's event will not be held in the town.

However over the past few years I have noticed the increase in youths who are out to cause nothing but trouble and the amount of litter that is dropped on areas such as Windmill Hill is utterly disgusting.

For the past few years I have spent the hours of my Sunday morning picking up litter in the affected areas and quite frankly I am fed up of it. I believe this year is for the true music lovers.

Bring on ROTW!!!!

ADAM HUTCHINSON

Truemans Road

Hitchin

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