Alan Castle: Is the monster about to swallow more events?

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ALNWICK International Music Festival has been struggling financially for years now.

It is a marvellous showcase which brings many tourists into the town and district from all over the country year after year and is put on and organised by a hard-working group of volunteers.

In recent times, the organisers have complained at a lack of town support but I think the town does pretty well in supporting it.

This is a free festival which survives largely on donations and people putting money into buckets that are passed around the Market Place and elsewhere.

The festival has been hit by groups failing to turn up for different reasons and as a result the standard has not been as high.

Now Northumberland County Council is to levy charges for erecting the stage and seating which the show needs or it cannot put on the week-long event in the Market Place.

In the past, under the days of the Alnwick District Council, I understand the festival received this free, as a benefit-in-kind.

Time will tell but the charge could be several thousands of pounds and maybe will be another nail in festival coffin.

Alnwick Fair no longer exists and that has been a blow to town income. In its heyday it was a colourful event full of characters. Is the music festival another that might fall? Once they go they rarely return.

Tourism is the lifeblood of this area now. Heavy industry no longer exists, high tech companies are helping but this is no Silicon Valley and the agricultural workforce has been cut to the bone.

‘Two Jags’ Prescott – or Baron Prescott of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire to give him his present title – has much to answer for by getting rid of the councils in Northumberland and amalgamating them into the monster that seems to be the cause of many of our problems.

A single unitary authority wasn’t wanted, it wasn’t democratically agreed by the electors of the county, nor is it living up to the overblown expectations laid upon it. Almost all of the problems we’re now facing were predicted – yet rubbished by the architects of this horrendous debacle.

I hate to say it, but we told you so.

I DID not know so many people living in north Northumberland could see into the future.

They can predict if they will be alive, they can predict who will be staying with them and who will not and even who the visitor might be even if he or she is totally unexpected.

They will even know in advance what colour, what religion and what nationally they are.

I, of course, refer to the 10-year national census which is to be held on March 27. How do I know what people know in the future? I have noticed people with the form obliviously filled in at post offices handing their census forms over the counter.

We are told that the form should be filled in on March 27, or the nearest date afterwards. Yet, I saw one lady 10 days beforehand trying her best to stuff the large envelope into a tiny letterbox at one of the post offices I use.

Many small rural post boxes have very tiny apertures and at first she could not fathom out how to get her envelope into it.

As I waited for a friend, I saw her try the envelope one way and it would not go in, she then turned it around and tried with the other end, again no success. She eventually tried halving the envelope lengthwise and it would still not drop down, so off she went.

I hope she had success elsewhere and for all those who have not yet filled in the form; March 27 is the day and if you do not do it then, shortly afterwards, look out for a reminder or a knock on the door.

I will not go into the form itself. This column is not long enough for some of what I think is totally unnecessary questions in it.

In America I am told it is 10 questions in 10 minutes. That is it.

We should follow their example.