Wow Festival: Residents Set Up Action Group To Fight New Festival

Action group set up to fight Wow Festival

Residents of Shanklin met on Tuesday night to discuss the decision by the Isle of Wight council to grant a licence for Wow Fest. Many thanks to David Pugh for sending through this press release which reveals the details of an action group formed to fight the festival. Ed

Wow Fest LogoFollowing a meeting on Tuesday evening (27th September), a group of local residents have vowed to redouble their efforts to prevent the WOW Festival taking place on the outskirts of Shanklin next year.

This meeting took place after the decision of the IW Council’s Licensing (Determinations) Sub-Committee to grant a three-year licence to WOW Festivals Ltd to hold a festival on land at Shanklin Road, on the edge of the town. The licence permits WOW Festivals to hold the event annually in August in 2012, 2013 and 2014, with numbers of 18,000, 20,000 and 22,000 respectively.

A small team of local residents, from Shanklin and others parts of the Island, have set up a campaign group – RAW (Residents Against Wow) – to co-ordinate efforts to minimise the impact of the festival, or prevent it taking place. They have vowed to use all legitimate means to thwart the event.

The residents are supported by local councillors, David Pugh and David Williams, who are continuing to represent their views and highlight the shortcomings of the festival.

Speaking after the residents’ meeting, Cllr Pugh said: “The Licensing Authority made the wrong decision last week. This festival is in the wrong place, at the wrong time of year
and is organised by the wrong people. We are hugely disappointed with the decision, not least because we presented sound policy reasons setting out why the application should have been refused.

“However the granting of a licence is only one step towards this event taking place. There are many other obstacles still in the way of the organisers, and we are now redoubling our efforts
to stop this festival becoming a reality. Between myself, Cllr Williams and many local residents, we will – over the coming weeks and months – be pursuing a number of routes in our efforts to achieve this. Anyone who shares our concerns about this event should get in touch; we would be pleased to involve them in our campaign.”

Wrong decision
The view that it was the wrong decision is shared by many residents. A number are currently considering whether to lodge an appeal to the decision. An announcement on this issue will be made on Friday 14th October, which is the deadline for making such an appeal.

There are also concerns that the licensing hearing was not conducted properly. Shanklin resident Kelly Moorman is writing to the licensing authority setting out her concerns about their failure to follow their own procedures. For example, the requirement that “an equal maximum period of time will be given to the parties in which to present their case” was not followed. The applicants and responsible authorities spoke for over five hours before local residents (interested parties) were given less than an hour to make their points. Furthermore the incorrect running order was used, affording the applicant two opportunities to sum up.

Miss Moorman said: “I believe that the meeting was unfairly weighted in the favour of the applicant and that the interested parties and objectors were very unfairly disadvantaged. The panel in their decision process took no heed of any of the representations made by the objectors which is apparent in the list of the conditions imposed with the granting of the license. They only appeared to take heed of the issues raised by the responsible authorities.

“I request that the IW Council re-hear this application because it is absolutely unacceptable that we should have to pay a fee and appeal to the magistrates’ court with the possibility of having costs awarded against us, particularly when the local authority has not followed a fair and just procedure. Should they decide not to re-hear this application, then myself and the other objectors will have no other option than to complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman and possibly apply for a judicial review. We consider that this would be our only reasonable course of action to seek redress in this matter.”

Miss Moorman and other residents will be requesting a response by Friday 7th October.

Wrong place
John Hague, a resident of Shanklin and a member of the local Ramblers Association, is leading the efforts to prevent the closure rights of way in the area of the festival site. The
festival organisers have indicated that they will be seeking the closure of footpaths that run through the proposed location. Mr Hague, along with many other local residents, will be urging
the highways authority (IW Council) to resist any requests for the closure of rights of way.

Mr Hague said: “The Ramblers are very concerned at the proposals to close popular and well used rights of way in the area of the festival site. These routes provide essential links in the network for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. To close them at the height of the tourist season and school holidays will cause disruption, inconvenience and nuisance to Island people and to our important tourist business.

“The Council is obliged “to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of the highway” (Highways Act 1980). Such closures are specified to be “because of the likelihood of danger to the public” (Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984). These proposed closures will result in users seeking alternative routes involving major roads in the area – thus exposing themselves to greater danger. We will fight for our right to use rights
of way which have been in place for centuries. We will not allow a set of festival organisers to deprive us of this right.”

Residents of the Island who have an interest in walking, cycling and horseriding will be urged to join the campaign to support local rights of way being kept open throughout the summer season. Without these closures the event may not be able to take place.

Wrong time
A lot of concern has been expressed that the proposed timing of this festival would have an adverse impact on the established tourism industry in the locality. August, in the middle of the school holidays, is the peak time for those working in the visitor economy, and local hoteliers are concerned as to whether Shanklin and the wider Bay area can cope with such a vast additional influx of visitors at that time.

Chris Quirk, a local hotelier and Chairman of the Shanklin Hotel and Accommodation Association said: “Our members are not opposed to a new festival per se, and many recognise that such an event out of the main season could extend our tourism offer. However the likely impact of this event in August would be to deter our traditional audience of seaside visitors, which could have a lasting detrimental effect for many years ahead.

“Our regular guests would struggle to get space on the ferries and even if they got here would experience our relaxed seaside town being potentially overwhelmed with excessive numbers
of visitors. We are disappointed that the organisers have not sought to work in partnership with the local tourist industry.

“Contrary to their claims of this being a boost to the longer-term prosperity of the area, it could have exactly the reverse effect. We strongly urge them to think again about the timing of this event.”

Wrong people
Island resident John Wortham has been a long-standing campaigner on behalf of various local individuals companies, who are owed thousands of pounds by two of the directors of WOW Festivals Ltd. Philip Snellen (Festival Director / MD) and Geri Ward (Director of Communications) have outstanding county court judgements against them as a result of their failure to pay bills for past music events they have organised. This is a matter of public record. Mr Wortham and his supporters believe that these bills should be settled in full before Mr Snellen and Miss Ward run another event.

Mr Wortham said: “I must admit to being staggered at the revelation the dubious duo of Snellen and Ward of jazz / folk festivals notoriety have the sheer gall to announce plans for a new festival. The catalogue of their misdemeanours has been extensively covered, not least by two editions of BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme.

“Geri Ward states that past problems only concerned the IW Folk and Blues Festival, and ‘lessons had been learnt’, as if that excused non payment to artists and contractors. The facts are, of course, that large sums are owed not only on the folk festival, but the 2007 and 2008 jazz festivals.

“Myself and many others urge all Island residents who support local businesses to boycott this event until Snellen and Ward have personally repaid their outstanding bills. It is an insult to hard-working local people that they carry on like this. A complete boycott of this event by Islanders will be a strong sign of the widespread public contempt in which these debtors are held.

“We will be launching this boycott campaign in earnest if and when tickets go on sale and would welcome support from all concerned Island residents.

“We will also be contacting local businesses and potential artists to warn them of the organisers’ track records in not paying their bills. These facts must be known to anyone who considers doing work for this event.”

This statement marks the first stage of a concerted campaign to thwart the WOW Festival.

If any residents wish to get in touch with the campaign, either with support and / or ideas for addressing these concerns, please contact us on

Thursday, 29th September, 2011 10:52am



Filed under: Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Planning, Shanklin

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35 Comments on "Wow Festival: Residents Set Up Action Group To Fight New Festival"

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So David Pugh is spearheading this campaign?


orchestrating, cajouling, manufacturing and controlling it

Senior Service

Gosh, you mean Pugh has actually been listening to the people that he represents? He should try the same with the results of public consultations!!


Pugh is actually quite a good town councillor, shame he didn’t limit his ambition to that task

I applaud the members of Shanklin for getting together however I’m hoping Cllr Pugh will not use his considerable power at County Hall to influence or thwart any independent decisions made by the Licensing Authority. After all, the decision is correct; the licensing committee followed existing guidelines and rules to come to its conclusion. The closure of public rights of way is an invalid argument. The disruption… Read more »
witchfinder general
Hang on a minute. I thought I read World Music somewhere along the lines. This is not a rock festival it is the modern day word for a folk festival. Being that all the Arran sweatered hairys will have the choice of some well established folk festivals like Sidmouth and Whitby in August. They will not be flush enough to pay out the extra ferry fares to… Read more »
Wight Essence
Unlike the other 2 big festivals, this festival would probably be similar to the Womad festival featuring music from all around the world. Instead of trying to stop the event, Pugh and the residents concerned should be encouraging it and welcome the chance of bringing live world music to the Island. If the WOW festival became anything like the Womad festival, I can guarantee it would be… Read more »
Sandown Sally

As the representative of local people, I would expect Cllr Pugh to use all influence to stop this happening, fair or foul.

Bruno Wieser
Anything that brings money, jobs and tourism to the island is a good thing and councillor pugh should use his time to do more important things than prevent people coming to the island especially during one of the worst recessions in the world’s history. The problem is will anyone come to it ? Will people have the money as festivals around britain are failing to get the… Read more »
Bruno Wieser

just had a look on the web and there is already a Wow festival not too sure how thick the organisers are but you would think they would make sure their name is unique – now I have no confidence it would be a success….and seeing their previous form on the IOW with festivals I dont think anyone needs to worry about it going ahead.

Not according to the people I know in Shanklin. He doesn’t hold a surgery or reply to emails, wanted to close the fire station, Shanklin Theatre, TIC, library, cut lifeguards and close public toilets etc. Alegedlly, he also swapped wards with Williams to guarantee himself a seat and be able to continue as leader. This does not sound like a good local councillor to me. Have been… Read more »

This comment was supposed to have been a reply to the praise given to Pugh in the comment above by N0.5.

oh family live in Shanklin and I did until recently…Pugh was instrumental in saving the Theatre, The Library is to be saved, Lifeguard situation is in the process of being remedied and we still have more public toilets than have closed. He does answer emails as I have dozens to prove. seems your source is ill informed…and as you state yourself the ward swapping was an… Read more »

Goodness! people becoming uptight about a music festival? whatever next? They actually mind having their lives disrupted just for the pleasure of others?

You are all becoming Paul Mullerys now. Finally got fed up with this nonsense have we?

“I applaud the members of Shanklin for getting together however I’m hoping Cllr Pugh will not use his considerable power at County Hall to influence or thwart any independent decisions made by the Licensing Authority. After all, the decision is correct; the licensing committee followed existing guidelines and rules to come to its conclusion. The closure of public rights of way is an invalid argument. The disruption… Read more »
Steephill Jack

There’s a very good chapter and verse account of the various Snellen/Ward organisations in the recent Ventnor Town Council report on its management of the Winter Gardens.
Look for the case study entitled ‘The Jazzers’. Fascinating stuff.

O. Verner

Nimbys the lot of em…lets face it, last one out of Shanklin turn off the lights! The poor tired 70’s relic hasn’t got much goin for it, why not bring a new injection of life,diversity & culture to this tired backwater of seaside towns!

Don Smith

Hire a field and make a fortune, with total disregard for others.

There are far too many festivals on the IoW. It is fast becoming a rave island. Good for the ferry companies and the supermarkets; however, no benefit for Joe Bloggs.

Will my community be reduced? Pigs can fly.


err.. who is employed by these ferry companies, supermarkets etc.? oh yes, us Islanders! yes you are right obviously no benefit to us then!

My response to 0 Verner and Employee is this. You have a right to live, work and enjoy yourself on the Island the same as everyone else. This right does not extend to inconveniencing your fellow Islanders. If you require police to block or divert roads at inconvenience to others, or make such noise as to prevent others from sleeping, purely for your entertainment, then that infringes… Read more »

So you never go to a football match, we should ban the Olympics, Cowes Week, garlic festival, Royal Weddings etc. etc.

What an exciting life you must lead.


And these events at Ventnor Botanical Gardens…people moan about these as well. Lets ban them and let the Gardens close down. The County Show always causes traffic jams, cancel that.
Pensioners cause traffic jams, lets ban them

O. Verner
Paul, we are in a ime of huge osterity nationwide, this island is buckling under the strain of the recession no more so in Shanklin, which lets face it is looking pretty tired, any new venture which brings in new money should surely be welcomed so we can all keep having a right to live, work and enjoy ourselves on the Island, I live in Cowes, I… Read more »

What a kick in the teeth for all those who are still owed money from the organisers of the jazz and blues festivals, to discover that they have enough money to advertise their new festival on the back of a bus.

Hugh Newton
Sigma Piano’s. I supplied fair trade African musical instruments to Sigma Piano’s in 2009. After paying a small initial invoice they ordered a lot more instruments, which I supplied. Since 2009 the people running this shop have promised to pay the outstanding invoice a number of times but have not paid it. I believe the shop is not closed and I cannot get in touch with the… Read more »
Bass Gurl

They are now based at Spithead Business Park in Lake. Good luck in getting your money, from what I’ve heard there are many others waiting still too.

Mr Sandown Sally

Being Directors of a Limited company allows this to happen. No doubt Wowfest is yet another Limited company? As long as Directors believe they are solvent – this kind of thing is legal, they are not personally liable for the company’s debt. I wouldn’t want to supply someone with a track record of not paying people.


still advertised on the WOW terms and conditions site as Sigma Pianos at A11 Spithead Business Park, Newport Road, Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO36 9PH

“This site is owned and operated by Sigma Pianos Ltd (trading as of A11 Spithead Business Park, Newport road, Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO36 9PH. Sigma Pianos Limited is a Company registered in England with Company Registration Number 5880539 and VAT Registration Number 891 9408 81. If you have any queries about these terms and conditions or if you have any comments or complaints on or… Read more »
Don Smith

Bring it on – What’s one more disruption for the islanders and tourists enjoyment.

Festivals; just money spinners for a very small minority.

brian brown
if it was down to some folks this world would be a miserable place or worse than it is now thanks to the same types of moralistic wallys that have forgotten how to enjoy themselves. . . .tolerance festival?sounds great to me. im an ex\stonehenge veteran and we put on a festival at stonehenge that was free for a month and without ploice interfearence or any state… Read more »
Rockin all over the island

I’m afraid the right of the minority to enjoy themselves should not overrule the majority who suffer noise and inconvenience.

In this case several factors weigh against it. The location is not appropriate. The Island already has several existing music festivals and most importantly, the organisers seem to have a poor record in managing music events properly.


Had a bunch of tourists in who had just bought tickets for this festival…warned them that it might not go on and the reputation and history of the organisors.

For the sake of decent honest business people and the artists these people have ripped of, this festival should be stopped

Rockin all over the island
If people book and pay by credit card, the credit card company will have to refund them if the festival doesn’t take place. For that reason, credit card companies are very reluctant to allow any old festival organiser to accept credit cards. If Wowfest has an agreement with a credit card company (in its own name) it could mean they are trusted by the bank. If they… Read more »
Rockin all over the island

Oh dear. The wowfest site directs you to a third party. It seems the ”the music shop iow” is the actual business taking the money, not wowfest. That may suggest a problem?

Credit card contracts normally forbid any business taking payments on behalf of another business.

I wonder if the credit card company handling the music shop iow transactions know this is going on?