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Fears of 'long-term damage' to iconic gardens if Cheltenham Festivals continue there

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 24, 2012

Mud: Montpellier Gardens after the removal of the tents used as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival

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MONTPELLIER Gardens has been left looking like a "mud bath" after it was used for Cheltenham's Literature Festival.

The current state of Montpellier Gardens and the gardens in Imperial Square has outraged groups who are calling for a re-think.

They are urging Cheltenham Borough Councillors to consider the "long-term damage" before deciding on the future of the festivals in the gardens in April.

The tourist spots have been left churned up and damaged after they hosted the majority of this year's festival events for the first time on a trial basis. A committee was set up to monitor their effect on the environment and nearby residents.

It will be up to them to decide whether to permanently use the gardens.

The Friends of Montpellier Bandstand and Gardens and the Friends of Imperial Square and Gardens met councillors to voice their concerns.

David Stennett, chairman of the Friends of Imperial Square and Gardens, said Montpellier Gardens had been left looking like a "mud bath".

He said: "Every year, both sets of gardens will have to be renovated in some way after the festivals and there are issues of sustainability. There are 21 days of festivals, but there are 75 days of setting up and taking down for the festivals.

"If restoration work is added on to that, it means the gardens are out of commission to the public for a long time."

The festivals bring thousands of pounds of the economy every year, with the latest literature festival hailed as the best yet.

Dr Patricia Bracegirdle, chairman of the Friends of Montpellier Bandstand and Gardens, said the group was not against the festivals.

She added: "We want the festivals to continue as they're obviously a great thing for Cheltenham as a town.

"But I am worried that if the level of use of the gardens during this trial continues, there will be long-term damage."

Cheltenham Festivals' head of production Tim Hawkins said both gardens would be re-turfed next week.

He said: "We have a contract with the council to re-turf the gardens to the state they were in before the festival.

"There is no evidence or proof that there will be long term damage to the gardens."


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  • DavidO  |  October 25 2012, 11:56PM

    I live 2 minutes walk away from the gardens and it's true they don't look too pretty at the moment, but they are going to re-turf it so why not wait to see the result before condemning them and asking for the festivals to be moved? They bring a great benefit to the area and I wouldn't like to see them moved elsewhere unless absolutely necessary.

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  • disco2disco  |  October 25 2012, 6:00PM

    by globalsass that is the best thing anyone on here has written for a long time. Could not agree more.

  • gallopingbear  |  October 25 2012, 4:23PM

    "it's quite unbelievable that dogs are allowed to roam and squat where people eat drink and lie on the grass" Dogs probably think it's disgusting that humans litter and lie about where they want to roam. I was going to empathise with the dog fouling situation, but comments like Alternative TV's are part of the problem. The park does not belong to any one person, organisation or species. It is there for all, and we all have a duty to pick up our litter and dog dirt, repair any damage we do, and respect the other users.

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  • AlternativeTV  |  October 25 2012, 4:13PM

    Maybe there should be more outrage about the dogs that foul the green spacies like at Montpellier and especially at Pitville Park near the tea hut where children play. Even if the guardians of dogs attempt to pick up the mess within the grass there are still traces of dog faeces, it's quite unbelievable that dogs are allowed to roam and squat where people eat drink and lie on the grass. Yuk.

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  • seaboy  |  October 25 2012, 9:57AM

    haha love getting a rise from you fools! GET SOME NUTS!!

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  • jimjam  |  October 24 2012, 4:58PM

    Why dont they move it to the racecourse, there is plenty of space and it could keep expanding. The Council should set up a new Art center in the town, Cirencester and Gloucester have one, We are missing out.

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  • daniboy72  |  October 24 2012, 4:37PM

    @RonSlater Thank you, but far from it. I am a Montpellier resident. I agree entirely that the gardens should be cleaned up and the turf replaced very promptly after events which, I assume, generate considerable profits to the organisers. I do, however, resent the self-importance of a small, vociferous group of residents - whether those near Pittville Park who opposed the ice-rink at Christmas or those those in Montpellier who oppose the festivals - who seem to thnk that the unsullied tranquility of 'their' gardens outweighs the common weal, when, in reality and in all justice, they have no more rights over them than all the other Council Taxpayers. Maybe still more, I resent the fact that the craven Council actually heeds these selfish nimbys, who enjoy the benefits of such spaces far more than the majority yet are unwilling to pay the price. The Parks are public facilities for public amusement, paid for by the public. Where, as in the case of the Festivals, these benefit the entire town, we residents should surely shut up and count our blessings - whilst remaining critical of shiftlessness and poor management.

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  • RonSlater  |  October 24 2012, 4:02PM

    daniboy, I agree with all your points. However your posts are undermined somewhat by the fact you seem to have a massive chip on your shoulder regarding Montpellier residents. You dont have to be local to understand why it would be better for these prestigious parks to NOT be left in a complete state.

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  • FreeRadical1  |  October 24 2012, 3:38PM

    I don't live nearby, but I can certainly see that it is not acceptable to leave a public park in that state. It's a prestigious park, not just some old piece of utility grass. The sooner the council gets it returfed, the quicker the area will get back to normal. The cold weather is coming soon, so they should pull their finger out.

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  • daniboy72  |  October 24 2012, 2:15PM

    @nibnobs and gallopingbear. Delightful and practical ideas if once we accept that the Festivals should be moved from the heart of town, but first can we establish that necessity and outline reasons? I refer you to my earlier first paragraph. Amateurish organisation in some regards, poor local PR and a bit of mud, currently annoying a few precious and proprietorial NIMBYs for a few days, vis a vis a triumphant Festival which has raised Cheltenham's profile nationwide, brought in massive revenue and caused enormous pleasure and enlightenment? We could only be having such a discussion in Cheltenham! Oh, and seaboy. Those who complain are NOT those who attend the Festivals. They do not LIKE the Festivals, you see. They want the gardens to be all pristine and all theirs. We 'pretentious narrow-minded people' who DO attend the Festivals are here arguing for greater public access to public spaces. Got it? Good.

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