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Music festival cancelled over park hire charges will not return in 2020

PUBLISHED: 12:06 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:33 29 August 2019

The Floozies on stage at Diss Gig in the Park.
Picture: Nick Butcher

The Floozies on stage at Diss Gig in the Park. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

The organiser of a music festival cancelled this summer because of issues over the hiring of the park in a Norfolk town has said the event will not return in 2020.

Diss Gig in the Park organiser Geoff Dixon. Picture: Antony KellyDiss Gig in the Park organiser Geoff Dixon. Picture: Antony Kelly

Geoff Dixon said Gig in the Park will not take place in Diss and that he was instead in advanced talks over staging a new event close to the town that could take place over two weekends.

Mr Dixon had hoped Gig in the Park could become an annual event after the inaugural three-day festival in 2018 drew more than 2,500 people to Diss Park see 40 performers including headliners The Blockheads and Dr and the Medics.

However this summer's festival was cancelled after Diss Town Council proposed charging £2,500 to hire the park for three days, rising to £5,000 if the event was a success.

The stage takes shape for Gig in the Park in Diss in 2018. Picture: Marc BettsThe stage takes shape for Gig in the Park in Diss in 2018. Picture: Marc Betts

Mr Dixon said the proposed costs and the length of time it had taken to make a decision had made planning the event for this summer untenable. He was also unhappy that he had been unable to secure a guarantee that it could also be staged in future years.

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Earlier this month the council performed a U-turn and slashed the amount it proposed charging people to hold events in the park.

Crowds at Gig in the Park in Diss in 2018. Picture: Marc BettsCrowds at Gig in the Park in Diss in 2018. Picture: Marc Betts

It now intends to charge £500 per day for commercial use of the whole site, £250 for half the park and £125 for a quarter, marking a significant reduction for large scale events like Gig in the Park.

Mr Dixon welcomed the U-turn but said that despite also been told that 'all being good' they could hold the event in successive years, it was unlikely to take place in 2020.

"We have not been standing still and are exploring other avenues; we could not just sit around waiting for Diss Town Council," he said.

"We have Unity festival on this weekend at Woolsey Bridge Fields and we are in talks next week about other festival opportunities on other land in the area. If the meetings are positive then Gig in the Park will not return, or at least not under our stewardship."

The new park fees agreed by Diss Town Council mean not-for-profit community events like Diss Carnival and Diss Cyclathon will be free, while car boot sales will be charged £50.

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