Cancellation would have been 'potentally catastrophic' for Wiltshire firms
It has been admitted that the reprieve for the WOMAD festival this weekend has come as a huge relief to those depending on it giving a boost to the local economy.
Police and organisers of the festival, which will bring thousands of people to the area, came to an agreement over security at the eleventh hour.
Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and the much-anticipated Manganiyar Seduction are among top acts appearing at the festival this weekend.
A licensing hearing due to be held to decide whether the World of Music, Arts and Dance festival at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, would go ahead has been postponed until long after the event.
Paul Baker, speaking on behalf of the local chamber of commerce, said: “We are delighted that they have come to a mutual agreement and it’s going to go ahead.
“The loss to the town would have been potentially catastrophic.
“What with Badminton being called off we couldn’t have afforded to have both of them cancelled; that would have been a disaster.”
As reported in the Gazette and Herald in June, police called for the review by Wiltshire Council after failing to come to an agreement over the amount of policing at the event.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We are pleased to have reached agreement with WOMAD over the policing levels for this weekend’s festival.
“WOMAD have undertaken to provide an increased number of suitably trained security staff who will work in partnership with Wiltshire Police officers.
“We are grateful to the WOMAD board for meeting our concerns and for playing a positive and constructive role in reaching agreement.”
In response to the hearing being called, people from the local area rallied around with letters of support for the 30th anniversary event.
A spokesman for WOMAD said: “We are delighted that this issue has been settled and that the festival will go ahead with Wiltshire police in attendance.
“We would also like to express our thanks to our supporters, particularly in the Malmesbury area, for their backing and encouragement through this difficult time.”
In a joint statement they said: “Our over-riding priority throughout has been to ensure the safety and security of festival-goers, and of the public across the county.”
The licensing hearing has been adjourned for two months where conditions put down by the police on future festivals will be discussed.
Plans are now going ahead with British Red Cross staff and volunteers poised to provide over 100 hours of first aid cover - 92 of the charity’s trained first aiders will provide round-the-clock first aid cover at the event up until Monday.
The weather forecast looks mostly dry and warm for the weekend after a week of high temperatures, with only a short spell of rain forecast for Sunday, according to the Met Office.
The festival campsite opened at 8am today and stays open until midday on Monday.
The arena opens daily from Friday from 10am until late.
See the WOMAD website for details and times on a shuttle bus service to and from Chippenham and Kemble station, as well as local bus services.