Town council defends 'heart wrenching' decision to permanently cancel popular Colne Blues Festival

Colne Town Council have released a statement explaining their shock decision to axe the popular Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 7:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 7:52 pm
Crowds at a previous festival

As revealed earlier by the Burnley Express and Leader Times, the council made the decision in a meeting last night to permanently cancel the festival, which has attracted thousands of visitors from around the world for the last 30 years.

The decision prompted an angry backlash from business owners in the town who claimed it was short-sighted and would deal an economic blow to hospitality venues which benefited from the festival on the August bank holiday weekend.

A spokesman for Colne Town Council said: "It is with great regret that we announce the end, as we know it, of the legendary Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne.

"The festival has been bringing wonderful blues music - in its myriad forms - to Colne for over 30 years. The event was not only one of Europe's ultimate contemporary blues festivals, but also a one-of-a-kind and much-loved festival for people of the local area."

The 2019 festival, which attracted over 25,000 people to Colne, won the UK Blues Festival of The Year Award and will now be the final festival under the guise of the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival. The 2020 and 2021 events were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Naomi Crewe, Colne Town Council’s town clerk, said: "This is a very sad day for the lovers of 'The Blues' in Colne, and for all those involved in the event.

"Deciding to make the 2019 event the finale of the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival was an extremely difficult and heart wrenching one to make.

"During these unprecedented times a decision has been made to create a summer music festival for the town of Colne which will hopefully have the town as busy as ever during the weekend as it was in 2019.

"Lots of decisions still need to be made and we will be inviting local Colners to a meeting shortly to give us their ideas and opinions on what people would like the council to provide.

"This will be in addition to the events the council currently provides for the town and its residents, including Christmas in Colne, Halloween in Colne, Easter in Colne, along with numerous other services.

"The town council now plans to organise a summer music festival for Colne. Although it's very early in the planning stages, the event will hopefully take place in Colne in August 2022 and feature bands and musicians from the local area and beyond and our wish to support the local arts and live music scene, and much more."

Coun. Mary Thomas, the chairman of Colne Town Council, added: "The council no longer has the resources to run the Colne Blues event in its current format. However, we are going to manage a summer music festival in Colne next August, alongside our other provisions for local residents."