Pantiles music row hots up with claim of unveiled threats

LEADING LIGHT Abi Todd was named Kent League Player of the Year

THE dispute over live music on The Pantiles has descended into bitter recriminations after the chairman of the residents’ association said the organisation had been ‘threatened’ by the promenade’s owner Targetfollow – an accusation the company strongly denies.

It comes after the Pantiles Residents Association (PRA) applied to have the licence which allows the Jazz nights, Soul Train and Hug-many to operate, reviewed last week. The move has been met with condemnation from business owners on the promenade and fans of the events.

At the heart of the dispute between the association, chaired by Ralph Llyod-Roberts, and Targetfollow is the Soul Train events which are held on Saturdays.

Members of the association have said these events, which are now in their third year, have led to their home lives being ‘severely disrupted’ by noise and drunken behaviour. They also claim they were originally told there would only be two Soul Train events a year but now there are plans for eight.

In light of this, they have sought a review of the licence, which allows live and recorded music, performances and films to be held in the open air venue every day between 10am to 10pm.

Event organisers warned any restrictions resulting from the review could undermine the financial viability of hosting them, and may lead to the end of both Soul Train and the Jazz evenings.

However, in an email to the Times, Mr Llyod-Roberts defended the review, stating it was a ‘last resort’ and accused Targetfollow of acting in bad faith after it seemed a compromise, limiting events to one per week, would be made after a meeting on May 16.

He said: “The meeting was a cordial one, and discussions looked vaguely promising for the future. If the recommendations were accepted by the reps board, we thought we might convince our members to struggle on with the events planned for the rest of this year.

“It seems it never even reached the board, as it was rejected out of hand by the responsible director of Targetfollow. He called me a couple of days later to tell me that they had to run the events as planned.  There was to be no compromise. Indeed, he even threatened to request the review committee to extend the time of the events to midnight and run them every Thursday and Saturday night, if we dared to press ahead with the planned review.

“Faced with Targetfollow’s intransigence and totally unveiled threats to increase residents’ annoyance, there is no choice but to seek this review.”

However, a spokesman for Targetfollow has refuted Mr Llyod-Roberts’s version of events, stating: “We note the view of the PRA on the situation a completely refute any allegations of threats towards the PRA. Targetfollow was willing to make a huge compromise on its licence and this was rejected by the PRA. We would like to have a dialogue with the PRA but they have insisted on this review and therefore we will follow the process they have instigated.”

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