Local & Live Festival ‘the most successful to date’

LIVE AND KICKING: Local band The Ackerleys on stage at The Forum on Sunday night Picture: Sally-Anne Low Photography

DESPITE the sun’s late appearance at Calverley Grounds, thousands of people descended on Tunbridge Wells over the bank holiday for a weekend of local music and good food, making this year one of the festival’s most successful ever – for music lovers and businesses alike.

The Local & Live music festival, involving three days of free, live music, brought a reported 14,000 people to the town to celebrate the local music scene.

Now in its 18th year, Local & Live founder Paul Dunton works tirelessly every summer to ensure this free event continues to support local artists and the community.

Paul said: “Making it happen every year is an exhausting process, but the result is always worth it.”

Also enjoying the festivities were local businesses, who saw a spike in trade over the bank holiday weekend.

Sponsoring the event and representing local businesses, RTW Together (BID) told the Times: “We are proud to have supported the Local & Live festival over the last four years, which brings thousands of tourists and residents alike into the town.

“Our footfall counters reported almost 14,000 people, or a 20 per cent higher level of people in the town over the weekend, which directly benefits local retailers as well, as reminding visitors what a vibrant town Tunbridge Wells is.

“Venues outside the park, and those [vendors] inside the park, reported they had had the best days of the month and a considerable uptake on last year.

Matthew Sankey, the Borough Council’s Business Champion and owner of Sankey’s restaurant, said he felt that this was the best event yet, with numbers up by almost a third on last year.

He told the Times: “This weekend’s Local & Live event was without doubt the most successful to date. Our event bar and kitchen outperformed last year’s figures by almost 30 per cent.

“Our sites on The Pantiles and Mt Ephraim also saw the best trading figures this summer, which proves the festival really does bring in trade to our town,” Cllr Sankey said.

“Reports from other traders were also positive, with many hospitality businesses reporting spikes over the weekend.

“It was also great to see so many BID-levy payers involved in the event as traders.

“All the revenue stays local and isn’t kidnapped from the town.”

Echoing Mr Sankey’s comments, The Bedford Pub said it had also seen its trade pick up over the festival weekend.

“We saw a huge surge in customers. [We are] so grateful for the extra business and the memories created.”

Independent retail shops also felt the increased footfall.

Victoria Richards, Store Manager at Good & Green, a sustainable ‘health emporium’ told the Times: “The festival went really, really well. There was a lot more footfall of people coming from the festival, with more first-time customers coming in.

“Even though we have been in the High Street for two years, we are not that well known… Being a sponsor has been great exposure for us, with Saturday being one of the busiest days we have ever had.”

Also sponsoring the event were Pantiles-based estate agents, Maddisons Residential, and local law firm, Berry and Lamberts.

Deborah Richards, Managing Partner of Maddisons, said how proud Maddisons was to be a top sponsor of the festival.

“The event is now a very well-established and well-regarded part of the Tunbridge Wells social calendar, and it was fabulous to see so many people from near and far enjoy a fabulous line-up of acts,” she said.

Tunbridge Wells solicitors Berry and Lamberts told the Times: “As a longstanding local business, we are proud to sponsor Local & Live, bringing together local musicians and showcasing the talent and diversity of our wonderful town.

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