Witney Music Festival has been cancelled after organisers had their licence application declined.

Chair Eric Marshall said the issues were noise, and a lack of detail in the paperwork which meant it had to be refused on safety grounds.

He said: “The council officers were very gracious and said they wished they could help but had very clear guidance about how to make these decisions and I completely understand that.”

There were eight objections to the scaled-down event which normally attracts thousands on The Leys but was due to feature just 10 local bands on Church Green on September 25.

Mr Marshall added: “One of the objectors came to speak and all sides were heard. I spoke to the guy who was objecting and he said, now I understand what you are doing I have more sympathy. They kind of understood.

“It’s difficult to say so and so is to blame, it’s just that we hadn’t had time really to do the proper communication and bring everybody on board.

“They thought we were just moving the festival on to Church Green which would have been ridiculous. It’s just a real shame. I was hoping everyone would get behind it but it is what it is.”

In an open letter published in the Witney Gazette organisers explained: “It feels that these objections have been made without fully understanding what we are planning which is an error on our part.

“We do not plan to have stalls or fairgrounds or anything else other than music to entertain people as they shop. Indeed, we want to encourage people to frequent local establishments for their refreshments and pop in and out of our event as they shop.

“The aim is to get people into town and try and provide a bumper day for the local businesses as our way of saying thank you for coming through the other side of the Covid lockdown.”

Organisers had only had since the middle of June when restrictions were lifted to get the necessary authorisations in place.

Mr Marshall said: “It was too a short a time – although we had the best of intentions there were clearly misconceptions. There was an issue with paperwork and given the timescale it just wasn’t going to work.

Oxford Mail:

Witney Music Festival chair Eric Marshall

“The good thing that has come out of this is that everyone seems to be very supportive of how we had it on The Leys.”

He said they would possibly talk to the town council, which had offered to finance the event, “about what any of us have got the will to do now”.

But he added that post-pandemic the festival would face challenges about attracting sponsorship from companies who no longer had the finances to support it.

“So many people have said they love it and can not believe that they get it all for free,” he said. “But I think it will be forced on us that we may have to consider a small charge on the gate for next year. If people want to have a festival we may have to look at something like that.

“Obviously if a big investor comes along then happy days.”

Mr Marshall said he would be talking to the team about their “appetite to do something else this year”.

“We have had to defer bands twice now and they all want to get out there and play and we had a cracking line-up."

Cllr Norman MacRae, Chair of WODC's Licensing Committee, said: “As a licensing authority we have to consider all the aspects of an application for an event to make sure that it will be run properly and safely for both the people attending and the local communities it may impact. It is a process that protects the people attending events, the organisers and local communities.

“It has been a really challenging period for festival organisers and our officers have worked really hard to support the organisers of the Witney Festival over recent weeks.

“Unfortunately on this occasion we did not feel we could grant the licence for Witney Music Festival because there were too many unanswered questions and issues around public safety for the event, with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue not able to support the application. We also felt the impact of noise on the local community could not be managed effectively.”