Wickham Festival to return with The Levellers

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A controversial music festival is set to return to the site it left three years ago.

Wickham Festival has been given the green light for fields it last used in 2007.

For the past two years it has been held in Stokes Bay Gosport, where it met with opposition from some residents and councillors.

But now Winchester City Council's licensing committee has given permission for the festival to return to Wickham where folk rockers, the Levellers, whose hits include What A Beautiful Day, will headline the final night.

Show of Hands, Martyn Joseph, The Men They Couldn't Hang, and Shooglenifty are also lined up to play over the weekend from August 5 to 8.

Cllr Peter Chegwyn, festival organiser and Gosport Lib Dem, said: 'We've got the green light already, eight months before the festival where with Gosport we were still haggling over things like the camp site with two weeks to go.

'Gosport's loss is Wickham's gain, but a handful of my political opponents will be happy.'

The festival was moved to Stokes Bay in 2008 after a review into public safety concerns was called for the Wickham site at short notice.

Cllr Chegwyn added: 'When Winchester said it wanted the review because of the bad weather the year before, I thought it would be easier to do it in my home town - how wrong I was.

'Wickham has welcomed us back with open arms.

'In hindsight we should never have left Wickham.

'There were very few objections from the locals, but the ones there were, were understandable.'

The site, between Blind Lane and Mill Lane, has got permission for music until 10pm on the first night and 11.30pm the others, with permission to sell alcohol until 1am.

Residents are to be given a special hotline phone number to contact if they have any problems with noise or anti-social behaviour during the festival.

Cllr Chegwyn said they are also planning to invite local residents to come along one evening for free.

He added: 'The conditions are tough but fair and they safeguard the interests of the residents while allowing it to go ahead.'

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