First got it­self all shook up

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views -

worth of fund­ing from the Welsh Gov­ern­ment. It grew over the next two years to be as big as it should be be­cause ev­ery ho­tel room and car­a­van pitch was full. That prob­a­bly would have been 10,000 to 12,000 beds in Porth­cawl.”

Peter, who also runs an Elvis Fes­ti­val in Benidorm, said the Porth­cawl event is now self fund­ing, although Brid­gend County Bor­ough Coun­cil does give £20,000 to­wards the huge num­ber of safety mea­sures to ac­com­mo­date the 35,000 rev­ellers who de­scend on the town.

The cash from the strate­gic events bud­get pays for traf­fic man­age­ment, health and safety, street and beach clean­ing and public safety, on which the coun­cil and or­gan­is­ers work closely with South Wales Po­lice.

Re­search com­mis­sioned by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment in 2013 and car­ried out by Ki­netic Cubed Ltd es­ti­mated the Porth­cawl Elvis Fes­ti­val gen­er­ates £6.7m for the lo­cal econ­omy.

And, ac­cord­ing to a Brid­gend coun­cil re­port pub­lished in March, the 2017 Elvis Fes­ti­val com­bined with the Urdd Eisteddfod, which took place in Pen­coed in May, and the Se­nior Open Cham­pi­onship, held at the Royal Porth­cawl Golf Club in July, will be re­spon­si­ble for at­tract­ing a com­bined to­tal of 175,000 vis­i­tors to the county bor­ough and gen­er­at­ing ap­prox­i­mately £14.8m for the econ­omy.

It’s a huge achieve­ment for a small town, but the fes­ti­val is not with­out its de­trac­tors. Peter ad­mits there are peo­ple who hate it but ap­pre­ci­ate its value for the town and also those who just hate it.

He also ad­mits there is va­lid­ity in com­plaints from res­i­dents and vis­i­tors that it has be­come too al­co­hol driven so the fes­ti­val has re­sponded by pro­vid­ing a fam­ily zone on the seafront and a pro­gramme of child­friendly events, in­clud­ing a Best-Dressed Houndog com­pe­ti­tion for dogs in Elvis cos­tumes, which was a hit at the week­end.

Steve be­came dis­il­lu­sioned with the di­rec­tion of the fes­ti­val long ago and said he and Peter parted ways after a meet­ing in the Wimpy burger bar above Sandy Bay. Nev­er­the­less, he still thinks the ben­e­fits it brings to cer­tain town busi­nesses are “bril­liant”.

“I think it’s worth a lot of money to a very, very small amount of peo­ple. The rest of us, the 16,000 (res­i­dents), have to put up with an ex­tra pound on the pint at the bar, not be­ing able to get into pubs and a lot of drunk peo­ple and some pretty grue­some sights,” said Steve. “But any­thing com­ing into Porth­cawl is good with me.”

Coun­cil­lor Mike Clarke, a di­rec­tor of the Brid­gend Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion and of the Har­bour­side Com­mu­nity In­ter­est Com­pany, con­curs its eco­nomic ap­peal can­not be dis­missed.

“Any­thing that brings peo­ple to the town has to be good. I think the pubs and restau­rants have done well out of it, but I know that Peter’s also been look­ing at re­flect­ing on the way it’s been go­ing and how it can be at­trac­tive to fam­i­lies. It’s put Porth­cawl on the map but I know as a coun­cil­lor you can only please some of the peo­ple some of the time. Peo­ple some­times only see what’s in the street, they don’t nec­es­sar­ily see the hid­den ben­e­fits. But at the end of the day Porth­cawl heav­ily de­pends on vis­i­tors and tourists. I was talk­ing to an ac­com­mo­da­tion owner and he said he is booked up a year in ad­vance for this. I wel­come any­thing where peo­ple are get­ting up to do some­thing of ben­e­fit for the town.”

Elvis fan Mark Ed­wards stops for a beer at Porth­cawl es­planade

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