THIS year’s Linslade Canal Festival was the biggest yet, with more than 8,000 people flocking to enjoy food, drink and fun in a scenic setting.
But the Tiddenfoot Waterside Park event’s unbridled success has led to health and safety concerns at Leighton-Linslade Town Council, who say action is needed if the festival is to continue to be a safe event.
Today, a committee looked at a number of options for next year’s event, including increasing the number of stewards on site to cope with burgeoning visitor numbers.
Options include using non-council stewards, formal event training for council workers, or the possibility sharing stewards with another local organisation.
The committee also discussed the congestion caused on the towpath and the lakeside path, and are considering spacing out the stalls and using more land around the lake.
Another idea is to increase the space between the boats by creating a circular walk from the Black Bridge and the Tiddenfoot pedestrian bridge.
The council says the large number of visitors arriving by car was also a problem, with motorists causing “severe congestion” along Mentmore Road. It says this impacted on residents, delayed access to the site and caused a problem for the emergency services.
A number of options to alleviate traffic problems were discussed, including using both Cedars Upper School and Linslade Middle School for parking, closing Mentmore Road, providing additional parking on the Grovebury Road side of the canal, moving stalls and exhibits from the paddock area to the lake, and bringing in a park and ride or ferry boat service.
One thing that will remain the same for the 2012 festival is the date – the last weekend in July.
Concerns had been raised that the event would clash with the Olympics, but committee members said the event was now an established part of the events calendar and should not be changed.