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Blues Festival hailed a success 9 June 2008

THE Bushy’s Big Wheel Blues Festival has been hailed a tremendous success by all those involved in promoting the 10th anniversary event.

Members of the organising committee, Laxey Commissioners and the Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team have expressed their satisfaction at the way things went and are already looking forward to 2009.

The three agencies once again worked in partnership to prepare for the festival which has become an established fixture on the Island’s entertainment calendar. Plans were put in place for the May Bank Holiday weekend to ensure that everybody enjoyed the performances and associated events in a safe and responsible manner.

While there have never been any issues with the behaviour of music lovers attending the festival, the police have been called on in previous years to deal with incidents in the village. However, the pre-planning, friendly policing approach and initiatives such as closing Laxey campsite helped to keep any disruption to local residents to a minimum.

Police confirmed a reduction in recorded crime over the festival weekend and said they made just three arrests on the Friday and Saturday compared with eight for the same period in 2007. In addition there were no reported incidents of criminal damage or assault attributed to the influx of people to the village. Another noticeable improvement was a reduction in the number of young people dealt with for drink-related matters.

Minister for Home Affairs Martyn Quayle MHK said:

‘The Blues Festival has developed into a very popular annual event and I’m delighted that everything went so smoothly and safely this year. This is a good example of a Neighbourhood Policing Team, local authority and private enterprise working in partnership to achieve a common goal.’

Laxey’s community police officer PC Andy Reed said:

‘This year’s festival and its fringe events were a resounding success for all those involved and the village as a whole. From a policing perspective we have seen a major reduction in arrests and recorded crimes compared with previous years. The message finally seems to have got across to the minority of youngsters whose anti-social behaviour has disrupted the festival weekend in the past. The campsite had been a focal point for those people and the decision to close it for the weekend - taken in conjunction with Laxey Commissioners – proved effective. Finally, I must thank the Department of Tourism and Leisure whose drivers gave up their time to provide additional transport out of the village. Without their help we wouldn’t have been able to disperse the festival goers as efficiently as we did.’

Festival chairman John Barker added:

‘The Big Wheel Blues Festival held at the Riverside Pavilion was a huge success this year. Both Friday and Saturday nights were sold out and the audience enjoyed acts of an exceptionally high standard with our guests from the USA, Hamilton Loomis and Sherman Robertson headlining. The weather was surprisingly kind to us on Saturday afternoon and there was a great turnout to enjoy the two stages of local blues acts as well as the family entertainment and children’s activities. We had an increased number of visitors from the UK in response to our advertising in the UK music press and many have already contacted us for next year’s dates in the hope of returning. All of this would not have been possible without the generous support of Cains, Bushy’s, Netcetera, the Department of Tourism and Leisure and the Isle of Man Arts Council. We are hoping to make a donation to the Isle of Man Red Cross in excess of £500.’

Peter Kinnish, Chairman of the Laxey Commissioners, said:

‘This year’s festival was well attended and people enjoyed themselves. The village had a great party atmosphere about it. Those who were drinking appeared to do so sensibly and we were very pleased to see that the trend of underage drinkers attending our village over this weekend was broken. The police presence in the village was well balanced. All this made the weekend a success and one we want to repeat in 2009.’

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