An annual festival which draws in more than 25,000 people to an East Lancashire town every year has been cancelled indefinitely.

In what has come as a huge shock to residents, causing anger and outrage, on Wednesday evening, Colne Town Council made the decision to announce the end of the legendary Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival, held in Colne, citing a 'lack of resources' as one of the reasons for its cancellation.

The festival, which has been running for more than 30 years and was one of Europe's only contemporary Blues festivals, won the UK Blues Festival of the Year award at its last airing in 2019, before the pandemic put a stop to the event in 2020 and this year.

Anger and outrage as council cancel Colne's legendary Rhythm and Blues festival

A spokesperson for Colne Town Council said: "It is with great regret that we announce the end, as we know it, of the legendary Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne.

"The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival has been bringing wonderful blues music - in its myriad of forms - to Colne for over 30 years.

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"The event was not only one of Europe's ultimate contemporary blues festivals, but also a one-of-a-kind and much-loved festival for people of the local area.

"The 2019 festival, which attracted over 25,000 people to Colne, won the UK Blues Festival of The Year Award and will now be the final festival under the guise of the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival.

"The 2020 and 2021 events were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic."

Colne Town Council’s town clerk, Naomi Crewe, who has organised and managed the event since 2017 after the town council took over the running of the festival from Pendle Leisure Trust the year before, said the council had been torn in their decision but thought it best to create a summer music festival for the town instead.

She said: "This is a very sad day for the lovers of the Blues in Colne, and for all those involved in the event.

"Deciding to make the 2019 event the finale of the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival was an extremely difficult and heart wrenching one to make.

"During these unprecedented times a decision has been made to create a summer music festival for the town of Colne, which will hopefully have the town as busy as ever, just as it was during the blues weekend in 2019.

"Lots of decisions still need to be made and we will be inviting local Colners to a meeting in the near future to offer their ideas and opinions as to what people would like the council to provide.

"This event will be in addition to the events the council currently provides for the town and its residents, including Christmas in Colne, Halloween in Colne, Easter in Colne, along with numerous other services."

Although it is very early in the planning stages, the new summer event will hopefully take place in Colne in August 2022 and will feature bands and musicians from Colne and beyond, supporting the local arts and live music scene.

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Chairman of Colne Town Council, Councillor Mary Thomas added: "The Council no longer has the resources to run the Colne Blues event in its current format.

"However, we are going to manage a summer music festival in Colne next August, alongside our other provisions for local residents.

"Let’s keep the award-winning Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in the hearts and minds of everyone who enjoyed The Blues in Colne and look forward to this exciting new music-based festival in the town."

The report to a full council meeting on Tuesday night stated: "If Colne Town Council chooses to reinstate the festival it will need to decide what will need be done to cover the financial and staffing requirements for the event, or whether to substantially increase the precept next year.

"If Colne Town Council chooses to do the Summer Music and Food Festival, there will be less strain on the budget and council resources.

"It is recommended that Colne Town Council does not reinstate the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in 2022, and that Colne Town Council runs a Summer Music and Food Festival on the Saturday of the August bank Holiday weekend with an addition to the events budget of £10,000 to cover the event.

"The reasons for this recommendation are to allow the council to still run an event on August Bank Holiday weekend (or a different date if chosen) without putting strain on the Council’s resources and finances."

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