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2022 West of England Area Championships cancelled

Contest organisers forced to cancel Area Championships in Torquay as NHS extends use of International Conference Centre at short notice.

west
  The Championships have been cancelled

It has been announced that the West of England Brass Band Association (WEBBA) has been forced to cancel its 2022 Regional Championships due to have taken place in Torquay on the 12th & 13th March.

WEBBA was recently informed that the Riviera International Conference Centre, which has hosted the event since 2003, was to remain as the official NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Centre for Torbay and South Devon.

Last week

Speaking directly to 4BR, it is understood that WEBBA has been in regular contact with the management of the Conference Centre since it was earmarked for NHS use.

They had been informed throughout 2021 that it was to revert to its original use at the end of February 2022, enabling the Championships as well as its other activities and bookings to go ahead as planned.

However, 4BR understands that in mid-January that decision was reversed without prior notice by the NHS, and the Centre's use extended until mid-Summer. WEBBA were officially informed only last week.

Beyond control

In correspondence sent to Band Secretaries on Monday evening (24th January), Regional Secretary Sue Oldfield outlined the situation.

"Due to circumstances beyond our control we have been forced to make the decision to cancel this year's West of England Regional Championships.

As some of you may be aware, the Riviera Centre is currently hosting the vaccination centre for South Devon and as the original February closure date is now being extended until mid-summer, the Centre will not be available to us in March."

She added: "Whilst very frustrating for our banding colleagues, WEBBA recognises the importance of the vaccination programme in keeping our communities safe during the ongoing pandemic."

Not viable

The correspondence went on to outline that, "…the WEBBA team have extensively explored many alternative venues. However, the reality is there are limited numbers of acceptable or comparable sites and in the short time frame available to us, any venue that may have suited our event is already booked or is simply not financially viable."

4BR understands that WEBBA organisers have tried to source several feasible alternative venues and dates, including the use of local schools in the Torbay area and at Exeter University, as well as splitting the Championships over two separate weekends.

However, it is understood that in mid-January that decision was reversed by the NHS without prior notice, and the Centre's use extended until mid-Summer. WEBBA were officially informed only last week4BR

Options explored

However, after all options were fully explored, it was felt no acceptable resolution or viable alternative could immediately be achieved. WEBBA has now taken the reluctant decision to cancel the 2022 Championships.

In the correspondence sent out on Monday evening they added: "We appreciate this will be disappointing for many bands and apologise for the inconvenience caused.

We would like to reassure everyone that WEBBA is committed to protecting the sustainability of the regional championships and will use the next few months to continue to explore other alternative avenues for March 2023."

Alternatives

However, 4BR understands that if individuals do have feasible alternatives that they believe can be explored further, that they contact their local association representatives immediately and these will be looked into.

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