Rosie was out today in Whitstable for the Oyster Festival. After a friendly welcome by David Roberts, Chairman of the Whitstable Oyster Festival Association and being presented with a dozen oysters by the Sea Scouts, Rosie joined members of the community in a parade from Whitstable to Tankerton Slopes. The parade moved along the shoreline to the beats of fantastic local group, Samba Pelo Mar.
The festival has been scaled down this year, from a full week to three days of activities. There has been some criticism that many decisions made this year will negatively affect local traders who rely on this key event in Whitstable’s calendar. The local Chamber of Commerce have also publically raised some concerns about the cutbacks. Last year the event contributed approximately £2m to the local economy. Rosie said, ‘Whilst no-one wants to see a return to the environmentally negligent, alcohol-fuelled festivals of years past, the cancellation of the fireworks has been seen by many as a particular shame.’
As Rosie was eating lunch on the Slopes, it was very busy and some members of the public expressed confusion at the very tight concentration of stalls and activities, which led to overcrowding; the food fair entrances were temporarily closed on quite a few occasions to ease congestion, with some people describing feeling as if they had been ‘penned in’.
Rosie said, ‘The people I spoke to mainly had a great time, but some also expressed disappointment. They felt that a wider, more innovative programme of engaging, family activities in various locations across the town would have better helped local traders. I understand we’ll have to see how the full festival goes, but I’ll certainly be asking the Leader of Canterbury City Council to confirm that a full and fair consultation will take place before any contract is awarded to run future festivals.’