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Campaign launched to keep popular Bury music event at Abbey Gardens

A packed Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds at the weekend for the Nearly Festival in 2018 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

A packed Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds at the weekend for the Nearly Festival in 2018 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

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Campaigners are fighting to keep a popular music festival at the historic Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds after the council received noise complaints from neighbours.

Bruno Mars tribute at the Nearly Festival in 2018 Picture: ANDY ABBOTTBruno Mars tribute at the Nearly Festival in 2018 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

The sold-out Nearly Festival, which features a host of top tribute acts, went ahead as planned in the Abbey Gardens last weekend despite fears that the event could be cancelled due to complaints over the volume of the live music.

This has led to the suggestion that the festival, which attracts thousands of people to the town centre, could be moved to Nowton Park in future years.

Now a group called the Bury St Edmunds Nearly Festival Support Group has been formed in an attempt to keep the event at the Abbey Gardens.

Nikki Mellor, who is behind the campaign and has also launched the Save the Bury St Edmunds Nearly Festival Facebook group, said the complaints had "opened up a can of worms" with other events at Abbey Gardens.

"Seven of us formed the group because we want to keep it in the Abbey Gardens. We didn't know each other before, we just love the festival.

"But it's not just about the Nearly Festival, these complaints have opened up a can of worms with regard to other events at Abbey Gardens like the fireworks and the Christmas Fayre entertainment which is held there. It's a huge issue."

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West Suffolk Council said the guidelines for noise in Abbey Gardens are for 65 decibels over a 15-minute average one metre from the façade of sensitive properties.

Jo Rayner, cabinet member for leisure, culture and community, said: "We hold many successful events in our parks across west Suffolk.

"As part of this we work very closely with organisers and residents on issues such as safety and noise levels.

"The Nearly Festival is very popular and we are glad so many people enjoyed it. There have been some issues raised, including noise, by local residents but equally we have had lots of praise for the event.

"The event was held over the weekend as planned and, as is normal, kept under review. We are looking at the issues raised over the weekend for this event and are not looking at others as part of this."

Danny Banthorpe, one of the Nearly Festival organising team, said he was "overwhelmed" by the support for the festival.

"The group is completely independent of us," he said. "They've done it off their own back because they love the festival and I'm touched and overwhelmed by it.

"We did everything we could to limit the noise. They've [the council] offered us Nowton Park for the past three years and in many ways we should do it as we've sold out on the Saturday for the past two years.

"But Abbey Gardens is such a great venue, it's so accessible for people to walk to and for people who get the train."

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