Impact Report – Lytham Voice Response
An Impact Report on the Lytham Festival, commissioned jointly by Live Nation and Fylde Borough Council (FBC) was published on 19 October 2023.
The Report immediately generated lots of media attention: the overriding message being that the Festival is delivering significant financial benefits to the Fylde economy (£9.2m) and that, generally speaking, there was widespread support for the Festival in Lytham.
We have reviewed the Report and would like to share our initial comments and observations with you:
- Scope and form of the Report – The report provides feedback based upon a sampling survey undertaken during and after the Festival.
This was not a survey focused exclusively or principally on Lytham residents: the survey extended to take on broad views of festival attendees, visitors, festival staff and a sample of local businesses, almost all in the hospitality sector;
A genuinely independent report would have given the consultants preparing the report sole discretion to determine scope and content and, based upon how such impact assessments have been conducted elsewhere, we would have expected a review of a range of other topics not covered by this Report possibly including any or all of the following:
- what forms could the festival take which might be different from the current format? Would there be support, for example, for a more community based festival on a smaller scale more accessible in terms of cost and content with less pressure on local infrastructure/parking and possibly more diverse and inclusive?
- what are the views of the emergency services based on their experiences during the event this year and in previous years particularly mindful of their own resourcing constraints/challenges?
- would an environmental impact assessment be helpful: particularly taking into account the potentially damaging impacts of construction of the temporary installations on the Green and the very large numbers of visitors descending on the Green and seafront during the Festival and the efficacy of the clean up/reinstatement works after the event?
- query the impact on Lancashire County Council’s highways management and risk controls as the relevant highways authority? and
- what has been the impact within Fylde Borough Council of diverting resources away from their core service provision to focus on Festival-related activities?
- On what basis is the report written? Fourth Street the report authors state they have “base their judgement on information provided by their clients (Live Nation and FBC) and other areas”. Fourth Street says “….projections, financial and otherwise in this report are intended only to illustrate particular points of argument and do not constitute forecasts of actual performance”. I.e. Is there a risk that they are suggesting a story in line with the instructions from Live Nation and FBC?
- How many Lytham residents were canvassed? – 356. Lytham Voice’s own survey commissioned prior to its inaugural meeting secured almost double that number, achieving 637 Lytham resident and business owner responses;
- Headline economic benefit – All media outlets together with Live Nation and Fylde Borough Council websites announced that the Festival had injected more than £9m to the “Fylde economy”. This is not correct; the Report projects the impact on the Fylde economy was less than half that at approximately £3.8m. We cannot verify that number and understand it includes accommodation revenues in Blackpool and St Annes. It is important we are dealing with reliable data;
The report does confirm:
Live Nation spends just £46,000 with only 4 Fylde businesses and
Live Nation donate just £6000 to local charities
- Has a “Festival Dividend” been earned for Lytham from the Festival? We have no idea. The report confirms that Fylde Council have been paid £96,000 for use of the Green, but we don’t know what costs have been incurred by the Council in supporting the Festival (Officials on duty, Council meetings, refuse collection, street cleaning, etc.). There is no transparency on the net funds generated by the Council or where the benefit from the festival is visible in Lytham or the Fylde.
Despite claiming Lytham businesses enjoy significant financial gains from the festival, we have not seen any examples of businesses ‘giving back’ to Lytham or the wider Fylde. Examples of specific festival related sponsorship by the business community, particularly hospitality, would be welcomed.
- What income/profits are earned by Live Nation and Cuffe and Taylor – again, no transparency. Information in the report suggests ticket sales generate around £6.75 million. There is no information on additional income from car parking, festival site bar and food sales etc.
- What free/subsidised tickets and other benefits have been issued to Councillors and Council staff?- This is important if we are to be confident that there is rigorous ongoing monitoring and management of the commercial arrangements on the part of the Council with Live Nation and Cuffe and Taylor;
- Did the report identify any issues? The Impact Report records the major issues of parking, traffic, noise, green access, drinking, rowdiness & littering;
The report contains 134 ‘free form’ comments of which only 13 were positive
9.. What about local residents? An analysis of Lytham’s ‘central’ residents FY8 5 (postcode) is not provided. However, half of ‘local’ residents (defined as FY8 5xx & FY8 4xx postcodes – i.e. Lytham & Ansdell) say the festival is an inconvenience and only 1/3 of residents support continuing the festival;
- Summary. Despite the headlines claiming significant financial benefit to the Fylde economy, the report provides projection rather than evidence. The report does confirm local charities benefit by £6000, hospitality businesses enjoy an increased turnover and the Council receive £96,000 for use of the Green from which they have undisclosed expenses to fund.
The report does not identify any specific benefits for Lytham or Fylde residents.
We believe tangible, visable benefits to residents need to be identified to properly evaluate whether the inconveniences caused by the Festival is adequately compensated by the gains (financial or otherwise) to the community.
We also seek evidence that the agreed commercial terms between the Council and the Festival organisers are fair and reasonable and take account of the growth in attendance to date and significant further growth planned.
We strongly believe there must be greater transparency and openness on such arrangements for Lytham residents, who are the ultimate key stakeholders in all such arrangements.
- Further comments? – We very much welcome further comments and observations from Lytham residents on any matter associated with the reports content, scope and commissioning.