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Tentertainment festival called off after organisers and town council row

By Rachael Woods

A summer festival that attracted 10,000-strong crowds has been spectacularly culled after organisers and a town council fell out.

The team behind Tentertainment, who had already pulled the plug on the 2018 bash, said that the big Tenterden recreation ground show would end for good.

Instead they will seek alternative venues to stage single events in 2019 that would also raise money for charity and community good causes.

The big annual Tentertainment festival has come to an end
The big annual Tentertainment festival has come to an end

The organisers have also vowed to distance themselves from Tenterden Town Council, blaming a lack of support for the decision.

Tentertainment’s spokesman Clare Passmore said: "Put simply, a festival of this size cannot be successfully planned, set-up and run (all by volunteers) without full and clearly demonstrated support from the local council."

She added: “We’re very saddened that we’ve been left with no choice but to walk away from the format of Tentertainment that we know and love, but we are unbelievably excited by the scope of things that we are planning.”

Tensions come to a head last year when the 11th festival was hit with last-minute restrictions ahead of its staging in the first week of July when TTC asked for the main recreation ground stage to be relocated to reduce noise nuisance to residents, while music was also limited to a maximum of 65db and had to finish before 10pm.

Tougher restrictions came amid an undercurrent of resentment about levels of funding and when organisers announced the cancellation of Tentertainment 2018, it led to festival supporters flooding a town hall meeting in protest.

Despite the two sides meeting and Tenterden Town Council promising future support, Tentertainment organisers said they couldn't rely on pledges.

2016 Tentertainment - the last at the Recreation Ground
2016 Tentertainment - the last at the Recreation Ground

The town council said it had tried to hold out an olive branch and clear the air but the attempt was unsuccessful.

A spokesman for Tenterden Town Council said: “We are disappointed that the organisers of Tentertainment have decided not to engage with Tenterden Town Council in planning the event in 2019.

“The council initiated a meeting with representatives of Tentertainment which was held last November in a bid to clear the air and offer our support for the future.

“We felt there was no benefit in revisiting the claims and counterclaims that resulted from Tentertainment last year, and that it was time to agree to disagree on some issues, and move on with a more positive relationship.

“Cllr Lisa Lovelidge followed up that meeting with an email in which, and on behalf of the council, she apologised for the late changes in arrangements which had caused difficulties for Tentertainment last year, and expressed regret at the level of negative social media comment that had contributed to a breakdown in communication.

Crowds at Tentertainment
Crowds at Tentertainment

“We agree with the organisers’ comments that community events can make a real difference to people’s lives, which is why we have long supported Tentertainment, the Folk Festival, the Christmas market, and, more recently, the St Michael’s Village Community Group’s Tributes in the Park with both financial and logistical resources.

“In the case of Tentertainment, this has involved a £2,500 financial grant, underwriting an additional £1,000 ‘bad weather’ insurance policy and power supply costs, and subsidising the cost of toilet maintenance and the post-event clean up operation.

“We would have wanted to offer similar support to Tentertainment in 2019, but respect the organisers’ decision, and wish the event every success for the future."

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