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Castle Concerts in Rochester could come to an end

By Lynn Cox

An urgent review is to be carried out into the future of the Rochester Castle Concerts after another year of disappointing ticket sales.

Council chiefs have admitted the concerts are 'unsustainable' in its current format.

The event, which runs over four nights, was dealt a huge blow this year when Jess Glynne- the artist who had sold most tickets - pulled out.

Craig David at the castle this year Picture: Phil Lee
Craig David at the castle this year Picture: Phil Lee

She was replaced by Craig David, who had already played several shows at the venue in recent years.

The revelation was revealed at a full council meeting being held in Medway this evening, which Local Democracy reporter Dean Kilpatrick is at and tweeted about the news earlier.

How you can save the Castle Concerts.

Despite initial optimism from cabinet members, leader Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) has now admitted the authority did not see “quite the bounceback we hoped for” from the £305,000 loss suffered in 2018.

He said: “Whilst everyone I spoke to who attended the concerts told me what a fantastic time they had, I cannot ignore the fact that last year’s ticket sales failed to meet expectations.

“As far as I’m concerned, the current position as things stand is unsustainable – and given the volatility of the music industry, I’m not willing to put further taxpayers’ money at risk.

“Therefore an urgent in-depth review of the Castle Concerts programme (is required) to see whether it is possible to identify a way forward to secure the continuation of these events for the future.”

But opposition members were quick to remind the administration of their reservations about the alcoholic and soft drinks ban introduced last year, with Cllr Alex Paterson (Lab) describing the move as a “self-inflicted wound”.

He added: “We’ve heard there’s going to be a review of the Castle Concerts, but that’s something that should have taken place a year ago. It’s probably the longest delay between a death and a post-mortem ever recorded.

“For whatever reason, this is a council which can be late in admitting when it gets it wrong, and – when it does – it’s full of excuses and false justifications.”

"It’s probably the longest delay between a death and a post-mortem ever recorded...." Cllr Alex Paterson

Labour leader Cllr Vince Maple described the ban as “inexcusable”, but Cllr Stuart Tranter (Con) pointed out very few – if any – outdoor concert venues elsewhere in the country allow music fans to bring in their own drinks.

The Rochester West councillor responded: “I don’t think it was Cllr Howard Doe (Con) coming in rather grumpy one Monday morning and deciding to spoil everyone’s fun – it was in the very best interests of safety.

“I really do not believe it had any material impact on what happened the following year.”

In 2018 it was revealed poor ticket sales prompted questions over whether a new approach was needed to run the annual concerts.

Medway Council’s aim had simply been to break even from tickets sales, but it was been revealed the shows, held over five days that year, made a loss of £305,000.

The concert series has been running in Medway for many years and performers, including, Will Young and Gabrielle and others have performed there.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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