PASSIONATE supporters of Basingstoke Live attempted to convince councillors not to axe the event next year.
Six public speakers, including two visiting councillors, called on members of the community wellbeing committee meeting to reject a proposal to scrap the two-day music event in War Memorial Park in 2013.
Each four-minute speech was met with raucous applause from the dozens of supporters watching the meeting from the public gallery.
Earlier, live music rang around the council’s Civic Offices courtyard in protest at the proposal to axe Basingstoke Live next year.
Nearly 100 people turned up for the hour-long demonstration where campaigners played trumpets, guitars, drums, and waved placards. They called on councillors arriving for the community wellbeing committee to recommend reversing a proposal that has left Basingstoke Live facing the axe.
The demonstration was in direct response to a council report stating that the free two-day music festival should be put on hold in 2013 while Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council considers staging a new event the following year.
The campaigners demanded a U-turn on the recommendation, and were adamant that losing Basingstoke Live in 2013 would be a major blow to the town’s music scene.
Kevin Hall, 42, a sound engineer from Buckskin, Basingstoke, said: “It is very important that we support what is the highlight of the music scene for Basingstoke.
“It’s an event where people can see local artists alongside some of the big names.
“More importantly, it really showcases Basingstoke talent – and there is a lot of it in the town.
And Fort Hill Community School student Jordan Swanson, 15, from Winklebury, Basingstoke, said: “I am in a band – The Phrase. We live for the festival. We were going to play next year, so we are annoyed at the proposals.”
Band-mate Kye Rayner, 16, from Winklebury, added: “The festival is probably the only good thing in Basingstoke that we have, and we don’t want it taken away.”
The Drum Runners’ Paul Midgley, one of the driving forces behind organising the event, told the committee: “To cancel Basingstoke Live would be anti-social, it would be uncreative, and it would destroy the community benefits built up in the last six years.”
Daniel O’Loughlin, founder of the Basingstoke Youth Movement, said: “It does bring people together. I love it when I see my Southampton friends and my Winchester friends and I can go: ‘You know what, for a weekend we are Amazingstoke, not just good old butt-of-every-joke Basingstoke’.”
And Sarah Howell, a member of Basingstoke Live Community Forum, said that Basingstoke Live was more than just a music event.
She highlighted that the event benefits volunteers doing backstage management, event management, or photography.
She added: “Basingstoke Live is a major date in the town’s calendar. It is also a breeding ground for fresh, up-and-coming local talent who would rarely get the opportunity to perform to such a large and diverse crowd.”
More 1,000 people have signed a petition to Save Basingstoke Live. To add your name, go to change.org and search Save Basingstoke Live.