Should jazz take over the roads?

A photo from a previous jazz festival shows spectators outside the Town Hall in Market Street enjoying one of the free concerts

Rother District Council has agreed road closures in Rye for the August Bank Holiday  weekend, and the NEWS page photo shows spectators listening last year to the jazz.

But the photo above, taken from the opposite direction, shows the spectators last year are blocking traffic apparently trying to go along Market Street and Lion Street. Kenneth Bird (below) questions whether the road closures should have been allowed.

By tradition, those in authority have permitted closure or obstruction of the highway only for certain approved reasons. Examples in Rye would be celebration of a royal event, such as the Queen’s Jubilee, or bonfire night, or a Christmas Festival event. All such are free public entertainments, hosted by local charitable organisations for the benefit of the whole community.

It has not been customary for this privilege to be extended to profit-making organisations, and indeed the official application form requires the applicant to state that the event is not for private gain.

The Rye Jazz Festival is undoubtedly becoming a major tourist attraction, with an impressive line-up of performers and artists. It provides cheerful sounds for jazz lovers and enlivens the street scene for the most part without inconveniencing others.

However, there are grounds for objection where significant disturbance is caused to local residents, and if the public interest is not the foremost concern. One local resident who emphatically does not care for the invasive beat, audible and inescapable indoors and emanating from in front of the Town Hall, has lodged an objection with the town council.

Rye International Jazz Festival is a registered company limited by guarantee, incorporated on October 26 2011. It does not promote itself as a charity and it is not clear what are its charitable aims, if any. Without wishing to be cast as a spoilsport, clarification would be welcome in this regard.

Photo: Rye News library


  1. What a nimby! these events are free public entertainment once a year on an August bank holiday weekend – whats the difference! Seriously – get a life!

  2. The clarification needed is indeed the fact that the events at the Butter Market and Kino Cinema stage ARE free events. These are sponsored by local businesses in support of the festival.
    We have been coming to the festival for 4 years now and will continue to do so hopefully for many more! It’s a brilliant attraction and advertisement for Rye and all it’s supporters of the Jazz festival.

  3. What is the matter with folk, can they not embrace Jazz as a happy event. So it’s a tad inconvenient to some folk, get a life don’t be so judgemental.
    If roads can be closed for the Royals why not for jazz it gives more pleasure.P

  4. The caption under the picture might be a little misleading. It implies that the van shown is blocked from going down Market Street. It is infact parked, as it belongs to the person in charge of the sound for the Festival – you can see that there is nobody in the driving seat.

  5. You start the piece with an error. Neither the Bonfire Night nor the Christmas Festival is a registered charity. Nor is the Hunt which sees the High Street closed for the horses and dogs to charge past in the autumn. Nor the recently reformed Sea Festival. But, in common with the Rye International Jazz Festival in the Butter Market, they all provide free public entertainment!


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