Worrying news reaches me about the current management of Chasewater as an events venue. Helen Borton, organiser of the brilliant, and very well attended annual Chasewater Transport Show has contacted me expressing concern over what seems to be a very peculiar attitude from the current overlords of the park. It seems that the previously co-operative and helpful disposition of Lichfield District Council to the Transport Show has evaporated, and this year’s show will be the final event in Brownhills.
This year’s event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, 15th April 2012, and I commend it to all readers as a fine, fun day out. Please do attend if you can.
Losing the show – which attracts more visitors to Chasewater than any other annual event – is a terrible thing. Everyone on the park benefits from it; the punters get a great, free show on their doorstep, the exhibitors get a huge audience. The cafes, railway and businesses at the innovation centre all pick up increased trade, and overall, the park gets a chance to show it’s considerable worth and wildlife to a wide cross section of the public. The loss of the show over what appears to be petty jobsworthing by the management seems silly, shortsighted and careless.
With Chasewater in the doldrums with chaos caused by the dam works resultant lack of water and still suffering access issues, one would think that Lichfield District Council – still managing the facility until 2014, when it transfers to Staffordshire – would welcome with open arms anything that encourages visitors.
Helen wrote to me with the following tale of woe.
Bring back Kevin Yates!
Since the birth of the Chasewater Transport Show in 2009, the Park Manager Kevin Yates and Ranger staff at the park have always been very helpful and supportive of my event (even helping during setting up days). The event attracts thousands of visitors to the park and I believe it has put Chasewater back on the map.
Towards the end of last year, it was announced that Staffordshire County Council would be taking ownership of the park, however Lichfield District Council would be managing it on their behalf until 2014.
Kevin Yates is now no longer working for the park and his role as Park Manager has now been taken over by Mr John Smith.
John has been less than supportive of my event and in my opinion, has treated the show with a very flippant, complacent attitude.
We have previously used one of Highfield farm’s fields as an overflow car park. This was originally organised in 2010 by Kevin Yates to try to alleviate public parking issues. This field was a godsend for us as it gave us much more space for parking. We then used it again in 2011 and planned to use it again this year.
Firstly, John told me that the field was not available and I would not be allowed to use it, although Kevin allowed us to use it for 2 consecutive years!
Then, lo and behold (as if by magic) John changed his mind, thus allowing us use of the field.
One Problem remained…
The grass is too tall there and is currently unsuitable for parking of cars. John has refused to allow his rangers to mow it, a job which Kevin always helped with. John told me he had far more important things for his rangers to do!
Overall, the attitude we have experienced has not been helpful and we’re at our wit’s end. It doesn’t seem like our event matters to the park management.
The Chasewater Transport Show 2012 will be the last one on the park as we have now potentially found an alternative, bigger venue.
Next year look out for the ‘Chase Transport Show’… yours truly will be organising it.
Thanks for the rant.
Surely some resolution can be found? I, and many other folk, adore this show and appreciate the very had work that Helen and Co. put into it. It’s a very well attended, immensely popular and well run attraction. I’m saddened to hear of the apparent lack of co-operation – I knew Kevin to be an excellent, helpful chap with a hands on, can-do attitude. It seems we need to regain this spirit and attitude in order to save what is a very valuable thing.
If Lichfield District Council or Mr. Smith would like to respond, I’d only be too happy to put their side of the story. Please sort this out, for the sake of Chasewater and the thousands of attendees who spend their money in your park.
[Edited 3rd April: I have been contacted by Helen Borton last night who informed me that Mr. Smith has now agreed to get the grass mown for the overspill parking. This is good news indeed, and I’m very pleased that the management team at Chasewater have finally seen sense. One can only speculate as to what caused such a remarkable about-turn. Perhaps Mr. Smith has realised the folly of alienating groups who use and care for Chasewater and decided to start building bridges. – Bob]