Colchester Festival future under review

COLCHESTER MP Bob Russell has urged Essex Cricket Club to consider the “historical significance” of the town as they decide on the future of the town’s annual cricket festival.

The club and its committee are looking at all aspects of expenditure and will review hosting the five-day Festival of Cricket at Castle Park and a similar event in Southend. The issue will be discussed at a committee meeting on September 27.

Essex play the majority of their games in Chelmsford but book the ground, owned by Colchester Borough Council, for the festival which is held every August.

Last month, thousands of people flocked to watch Essex defeat Gloucestershire in a Clydesdale Bank40 game and draw with the same opposition in a four-day county match.

Liberal Democrat MP Mr Russell said news that the festival’s future was in doubt was not a surprise but pleaded with the club to consider the bigger picture.

“I am not surprised [at the decision] and if I was in charge of Essex County Cricket Club, I would look at what I have got in Chelmsford and ask where the economic sense was in not playing all our games there,” he said.

“I appreciate there is a commercial decision to be made and I would look at the ground in Chelmsford sitting idly while marquees and temporary stands are put up in Colchester.

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“But on the other side of things, the Colchester Cricket Festival is a social event and part of the spirit of the oldest recorded town in the country and has been for 100 years.

“I would have to balance the economic situation with the public’s perception if at all possible, and take the view that Colchester is the premier town in the county of Essex.

“I have been told that Colchester, north-east Essex and Suffolk provide a significant part of the crowd when the festival comes to the town and those people do not go to Chelmsford. Then there is the image of Essex Cricket as a county club and I would like to think they would consider Colchester’s historic significance when balancing the argument. I would urge them to keep the festival.”

The club’s commercial manager Danny Macklin said: “The club and committee are reviewing all their expenditure lines as they do every year.

“This year’s festival was in line with our expectations and was well-attended.”

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