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Festival brings its ‘unique buzz’

Crowds at last year's Lytham Festival
Crowds at last year's Lytham Festival

Traders and residents are savouring the ‘unique buzz’ Lytham Festival brings to town.

The ninth annual Festival continues on the Green’s main stage until Sunday and is sure to again set the tills ringing apace at the town’s shops, restaurants and cafes as thousands of music fans flock to town.

Steps, topping the bill on the opening night of this year's Festival

Steps, topping the bill on the opening night of this year's Festival

But less than 48 hours before the band Steps were due to headline Wednesday’s opening main stage concert, travellers were still at the nearby YMCA playing fields – and threatening to move onto The Green.

Following court action by Fylde Council, however, the last of the travellers left town on Tuesday – and the police as well as Fylde chief executive Allan Oldfield came in for particular praise for their efforts in ensuring their departure.

“I’m sure everybody is so relieved that the travellers have gone,” said Lytham councillor Mark Bamforth.

“They caused a lot of concern when they arrived late last week but legal processes have to be followed to move them on and all credit to the chief executive and the police.

Travellers on YMCA playing fields at Seafield Road, Lytham

Travellers on YMCA playing fields at Seafield Road, Lytham

“A small group of travellers actually moved onto the Green on Saturday evening but Allan himself was involved himself in the negotiations to persuade them away from there and the police presence was also very reassuring.

“Since Lytham police station closed some years ago, there have been some concerns about the level of police presence in the town but I certainly saw no cause for complaint this time.

“It was good they were on hand in such numbers when they were needed.

“Now we can get on with enjoying Lytham Festival and all the great advantages it brings to town in terms of atmosphere and a boost for the local economy.

“It is one of the biggest weeks of the year for the town and it was important it wasn’t disrupted.”

The threat by the travellers to move onto The Green was revealed at Blackpool Magistrates Court on Monday when Fylde Council, acting on behalf of landowners the YMCA, made an emergency application to have the 15 men, 12 women and their 22 children moved off the site.

The travellers had been using eight caravans, eight cars and two trailers which are also on the YMCA playing fields site.

The order granted meant vehicles on the designated area could be towed off and travellers evicted within 24 hours and police confirmed that the last of them left the site on Tuesday.

Lytham Festival is being held two weeks earlier than usual to allow for the Ricoh Women’s Open Golf taking place at Royal Lytham and St Annes from August 2 – and traders are relishing the financial boost it brings.

Denize Ashton, chairman of the Lytham Business Partnership, said: “The Festival provides a unique buzz to the town and indirectly benefits not only Lytham but the wider area though use of suppliers, extra staff, accommodation, transport and hospitality.

“Business owners realise there is a proven theory that even if people come in just for the day or the evening, they find our area a lovely place and look to come back to in the future.

“With another eclectic lineup I’m sure the locals are happy with what’s on offer right on their doorstep.”

Helen Vavoso, co-owner of Lytham restaurants Spago and Java and Fifty Four in St Annes, added: “The Festival is a great event for our group of restaurants and the whole town in general.

“We see increased trade prior to the start of each concert and the festival itself puts Lytham in people’s minds for future visits.

Festival director Peter Taylor said: “Everyone is really excited about what is going to be a fantastic week.”