Band plays on despite losing use of bandstand in Norwich’s Chapelfield Gardens

The Dereham Band preparing to play in Chapelfield Gardens.

The Dereham Band preparing to play in Chapelfield Gardens. - Credit: Archant

It was the first performance in a summer of live musical shows at bandstands in parks across Norwich.

With the warm weather people had flocked to Chapelfield Gardens to watch the Dereham Band play a host of classical songs on the park's famous bandstand.

But instead of taking to the stand the 28 performers from Dereham were left to play 20 yards away under a large tree due to a group of homeless people using the bandstand as a place to sleep.

The brass band was due to kick off the summer of free concerts at 3pm on Sunday afternoon but when they arrived to set up, it became clear to conductor Tony Hampton that there was going to be a problem.

'When we arrived we noticed that there were people on the bandstand but we didn't realise to begin with that they were living there,' he said. 'They were asked to move, which they had no problem with, but there was a lot of rubbish on the bandstand which would have taken a while to clear.

'The decision was made not to use the bandstand due to the rubbish on it and an unpleasant smell. The band moved and set up their instruments in another area of the park to ensure they would begin playing on time.

'It was a shame as it is such a lovely bandstand and it would have been great to play on it,' said Mr Hampton.

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'It was unfortunate that we couldn't use the bandstand for what it was built for but it didn't affect our performance. It was more unfortunate for them as they have nowhere to live.'

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said they were aware of the problem in the gardens and said that the bandstand would be cleared for future concerts. She said: 'Teams from across the council, including specialists who work with rough sleepers, are aware of the group – as we have been when there have been others camping in the bandstand in recent weeks – and it is still hoped the people concerned will accept the support being offered.

'As far as future concerts are concerned, of course, the bandstand is not suitable as accommodation and as such it will be vacated and cleared within the next day.'

Mr Hampton will be back with the Dereham Band at Chapelfield Gardens in July where he hopes they will be able to use the bandstand this time round.

He said: 'Hopefully we will be able to play on it but it is so great to be able to play live music in the beautiful parks we have in and around the city.'