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By Steve Carpenter Monday 07 January 2013 Updated: 09/01 14:55
THE LOCATION of one of the biggest free festivals in the UK held every summer in Coventry is being put to the public vote.
Thousands of people from across the Midlands attend the city's flagship event, Godiva Festival, which will be returning to the event calender in 2013.
Last year the event was cancelled for the first time in its history because of the poor weather throughout the summer.
That led to the city centre-based event Godiva in the Square which was held in the newly revamped Broadgate square.
And now people face the straightforward choice of keeping with its current location in the War Memorial Park or in a new location in the city centre.
"The terrible weather which forced the first-ever cancellation of last summer's festival has required us to look at alternative options," said coun John Mutton, leader of the council.
"Everyone is passionate about the Godiva Festival and will have their own view on where they want this year's festival to be held – and I've got my own strong preference – however, we want the public of Coventry to have their say on where they want it to be held.
"I encourage everyone to play their part by voting over the next two weeks so we can see what their preference is."
A public voting process gets under way to day (Monday) with people being actively encouraged to make sure they have their say by voting for one of the two potential locations.
People can cast their votes by texting either CITY CENTRE or PARK to 07950 081216, ringing 024 7683 4040, visit www.coventry.gov.uk/godivafestival, or by sending a voting slip which can be found in this week's Coventry Observer by hand or post to Reception, Coventry Council House, Earl Street, Coventry, CV1 5RR or any Coventry library.
The deadline for people to pass on their votes is midnight on Sunday January 20.
City Centre: With a main stage in Broadgate and a potential crowd of 8,000 – plus thousands more at other locations - a city centre festival would feature events and stages at sites such as Millennium Place and Ironmonger and Shelton Squares.
There would be no risk of rain ruining the big day and it would benefit city centre businesses such as shops and pubs.
Other benefits include easy access and parking. But on the downside there are no real picnic areas or large grassy spaces and it could cause disruption to workers and others not attending the Festival.
And a smaller main stage crowd means potentially fewer big name acts.
War Memorial Park: The Park has been home to the Festival for 15 years and – apart from last year's cancellation for bad weather – has been a great success.
There's free onsite parking, a great funfair and room to contain the whole event in one area, with wide open spaces for picnics and that 'festival feel'.
The Park can host large audiences too and has attracted thousands to see a wide variety of bands including The Enemy and ABC.
Arguments against include the possible threat of rain leading to a repeat of last year's cancellation and the Park is out of action for other users. There's also the cost of restoring it to its former state.
WAR MEMORIAL PARK - Steve Carpenter, Observer reporter:
“Hosting the Godiva Festival away from the War Memorial Park would be like lifting Glastonbury Festival out of Somerset...It simply should not be allowed to happen.
“The people of this city don't have much to look forward to in terms of local events, but Godiva Festival is the one thing we all look out for at the start of the year.
“When the summer comes around and the weekend of Godvia Festival is upon us, we all look forward to joining friends and family at the Memorial Park to enjoy that festival atmosphere.
“And what makes the festival so special is the sheer volume of people that attend.
“For one weekend of the year it feels as though Coventry is transformed into a mini Glastonbury, with large tents spread across the park, bands playing on large stage areas
“I can understand the benefits of hosting it in the city centre, but why not put on a different event later in the year, or perhaps make the Christmas lights switch on bigger?
“Yes the image of the city centre needs to improve but I don't think hosting the Godiva Festival there will help.
“Moving it away from the Memorial Park will lose the festival feel. The city centre is not appealing and numbers will subsequently drop.
“Godiva Festival must remain at the Memorial Park. It's tradition, it's spacious and it provides that festival vibe for thousands of people of all ages.”
CITY CENTRE - Coun Ed Ruanne:
“The Godiva Festival is a great festival but we need to get people back into the city centre.
“Everyone knows how bad the city centre is and having the festival there will help improve that image and encourage people to visit.
“There are lots of different sites that could be used. We have Broadgate which has recently been improved and Millennium Place too.
“Having it in the city centre will help improve tourism in the city and it will help the local economy because people will be able to visit shops, cafés and bars.
“What return do we get from hosting it at the Memorial Park? Earlsdon High Street is busy over the weekend but people don't come to the city centre.
“There are other festivals that are held in the city centre, like Edinburgh Festival and they work really well.
“We need to make the city centre more vibrant and we need to improve it where we can because if we don't do that it will continue to decline.
“I don't see why we can't pilot the event in the city centre for a year because it would really help make it a more vibrant place.”
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