Once again Folkestone has been listed by The Times newspaper as one of the top ten coolest places to live in Britain. This is good timing as the venues and attractions on the Folkestone harbour arm prepare to re-open at the end of this month. The harbour arm has not only become a popular attraction for residents, but also brings people back into the town. With the return of the Folkestone Triennial art show at the end of August, as well as the usual busy calendar of summer events in the harbour area, 2017 should be a year which pushes the town even further up The Times’s ranking list.
Folkestone is also benefiting from a new funding announcement made by the Arts Council last week for East Kent. Our area has been chosen as one of just sixteen places across the country to receive a significant investment into its arts, culture and heritage, as part of the £20million Lottery funded Great Places Scheme, a partnership between Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England. East Kent will receive a grant of nearly £1.5million to support ‘Pioneering Places’, an ambitious project exploring local heritage, developing civic pride and making the most of our area’s vibrant culture. This is a further boost for Folkestone in addition to the opening of the new museum at Folkestone Town Hall, later in the spring, which has also been supported by a £1.9million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Live music events and performances are an important part of the creative economy, both locally and across the country, and have formed part of an important inquiry we are conducting through the Culture, Media and Sport select committee. Too many people have been victims of being miss-sold tickets to events through websites that claim that they can get you into the event you want to see, as long as you are prepared to pay the price. I believe that websites that are used to sell these types of tickets have a responsibility to their customers. They must make sure that sellers of tickets comply with the existing consumer protection legislation; this includes showing the seat, row and block numbers on the ticket that has been placed for sale. If you are looking to buy tickets from online brokers, do not do so if this information is not shared, as there is a risk that you may be purchasing invalid tickets. The Competition and Markets Authority is also investigating the miss-selling of tickets and I hope and expect that they will take tough enforcement action against people who are not complying with the law. This week the government is also introducing legislation to outlaw the use of computerized ‘bots that harvest large quantities of tickets from legitimate sites, only to instantly put them up for resale at hugely inflated prizes. This method is ripping off the genuine fans and denying them the chance to buy the tickets they want at their real value.