Breaking news: Controversial River Festival changes to be scrapped

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The Bedford River Festival Main Stage in Russell Park. Image: Pad Presents
The Bedford River Festival Main Stage in Russell Park. Image: Pad Presents

Mayor Tom Wootton has said proposed river festival changes revealed in the Bedford Independent on Friday (18 August), which received almost universal criticism, will now not be going ahead after he “listened to feedback”.

Elected Mayor of Bedford Borough Tom Wootton (Conservative) is believed to have agreed to roll back the changes, that would have seen the popular River Festival scaled back to a smaller annual family festival, after feedback including from within his own party.

Read: Bedford River Festival to be replaced with annual family festival

Our article about changes to the Bedford River Festival received hundreds of comments across our social media pages from councillors, business owners and residents criticising the proposals.

However, some did highlight where positive changes could be made to bring the river festival into modern times.

These suggestions included lower rates for local businesses to host stalls, better policing, a separate family-friendly area and greater inclusion for local cultural groups, charities and artists of all disciplines.

River Festival 2022. Image: Chelsea Donnelly Photography

Mayor Wootton has told the Bedford Independent, “There will be a river festival in 2024 and it will be as beautiful and wonderful as ever.

“I am here to listen, and I am transparent, so don’t be surprised when I do take feedback on board.

“We do need to look at the River Festival and we do need to look at ways we can make it more family focussed, so we will be looking at ways to consult further.”

The Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bedford and Kempston Pinder Chauhan posted on her Facebook page on Sunday (20 August), that she had met with the Mayor to discuss the matter.

“After a long discussion he has agreed that he will re-examine it and that the River Festival will go ahead,” she wrote.