BENCHES removed from Abergavenny’s town centre ahead of this weekend’s food festival have been replaced following an outcry from local people and complaints from the town’s mayor.
Speaking earlier this week Councillor Chris Woodhouse said he welcomed the many events hosted in Abergavenny, but local considerations needed to come first.
“I walked through last night and was completely shocked that the benches, which we’ve spent so much money on, and received so much publicity about have been taken away, allegedly to facilitate the food festival.
“We need to tell festivals that they have to work around us. They cannot take us over. Whilst we love having thousands of visitors, and the prosperity they bring to the town, we mustn’t forget our locals.
“There are many pensioners who go for their business in the Post Office, who are grateful to have a five minute sit-down. Many people leave their spouses and children outside whilst they go into the Post Office too. The refurbishment has been a great asset to the town.
“Ironically the food festival will now have twice the space on St John’s Square than in previous years. The benches would enhance the stalls they set up, which don’t need to take up huge amounts of space,” he said.
Councillor Woodhouse said he’d been in touch with MCC, and hoped the problem would be rectified as soon as possible.
“They are doing their very best. I’ve told them the deadline will be Friday evening before the stalls are set up. At the moment, people are asking questions that I just can’t answer.”
On Wednesday morning the benches were replaces - although it is not yet known whether they will be removed again before this weekend’s festival.
Abergavenny Food Festival confirmed that it had asked for the benches to be removed on Friday for the duration of the event but said that the decision to do the work earlier in the week was a ’matter for MCC’.
A spokesman for MCC said that the benches had been designed to be removed and replaced relatively easily to accommodate events but said that in light of the complaints they would be replaced
“We are also speaking to the organisers of the food festival to see if their layout can be adjusted to allow the benches to remain in place. If this is not possible, the benches will be removed as late as possible on Friday and replaced after the food festival," he said.
As yet the cost to the council taxpayer of the removal and replacement has not been confirmed.