Firstly, thanks for coming to Piazza Italia this year! I hope you had a great time.
Secondly, thanks for filling out the survey! Here are some answers to a couple of questions that popped up regularly in the feedback, I thought I could answer some on here so you know I read them!
Here we go!:
There were less cars this year?
Yes, following last year’s town chip shop fire we agreed new layouts with the Fire Service that would maintain emergency vehicle access through Carfax and East Street.
This gave a total number of display spaces of around 65 in the central area plus up to 12 on the Forum and another 200 bikes or 40 small cars in Bishopric. Our previous largest total of cars was 95 Ferraris plus the Forum display and Bishopric.
Co-incidentally previous event surveys had increasingly told us that it was difficult for people to comfortably walk around the car display areas and appreciate the cars individually. The new displays allowed us to show the cars more effectively and visitors to have the extra space to enjoy them. They certainly looked a lot better to me!
At first I had been worried that we would lose too much impact but on balance I was happy with what we did and the potential it now offers us to create even more interesting displays based on car and bike quality rather than quantity. The new McLaren only display in Market Square and Maseratis in the Swan Yard approach being great examples.
I was left thinking we now need to figure out how we can add more spectacle to the car departure in future events.
You took longer time to get them parked this year?
It’s true, especially on Good Friday when the pressure was on to keep a fire engine lane open whilst parking £100,000 plus cars with thousands of onlookers, not mention the Ferrari owners themselves more than passing interest! We had a big set of new staff this year and Piazza parking is something that takes a while to get used too.
But by Easter Monday I and our newly extended event team had become more confident in the layouts and were able to park more than one area at a time. If repeated this would enable the Ferraris and other groups to be parked all together more quickly too.
Can you use any other areas of the town to make more car display space available?
We always look for new ideas that spread event activity to support local business areas and with the new layouts, this year in particular we looked at a lot of new options. But alongside this we have to balance our ability to manage use safely with the wishes of owners and sponsors who usually want to be in areas known to be busy.
We did plan for some club displays at the Parkside Council Offices this year but there weren’t used because of the storm. The new Plum Campers Classic VW show on Sunday 5 June is planning to make use of this space and we are keen to see how many people see this.
Why weren’t cars on the Bishopric and Forum on Easter Monday and so few in East Street?
Storm Katie had a massive impact on our plans to use these areas on two of the three days.
To keep the event safe we took a decision to centralise the activities around the Carfax on Easter Monday and scaled activities back on Easter Saturday as well to reduce the risk to activities that would have been under gazebos.
Thanks to the co-operation of the Swan Walk team we were able to carry on with a lot of the activities relocating them inside. This included most of the children’s activities, Italian market and Love Italy stand plus our own event information point.
Given that the weather had cleared by midday, I can see why later visitors on Monday may have questioned why there wasn’t much going on outside other than the car displays and entertainment!
But knowing what we faced in the morning when the winds were still dangerously strong I know it was the only way of putting on a decent show.
The high winds made some structures dangerous and required the temporary closure of West Street and areas of East Street. This was challenging for the event and meant the businesses in these areas didn’t do as well but I feel satisfied with the way we managed the situation and how we organised it so most of the event could still be enjoyed.
Despite this I will continue to be annoyed that event wasn’t able to deliver all of the town value that Good Friday and its record numbers had shown!
What’s happening about Piazza Italia 11 next year? Are the bikes being cancelled?
Horsham Piazza Italia is an increasingly massive undertaking and in the current economic environment we can never take anything for granted.
After every event we review Piazza Italia, which is why the surveys of visitors, businesses and other event partners are so important. That way we can report what went well and what can be improved on so the Council and all of the event partners, which numbered over 100 this year, can consider what value the event has and what support can be invested in the following year (currently evaluation is taking place!).
With regard to the Italian bikes, I and the team regard them as an essential part of the Horsham Piazza Italia ‘magic formula’ and we would find it very hard to conceive the event running without a strong bike representation in future.
In short, if there is a ‘Horsham Piazza’ there will be bikes!
I hope this answers some of your questions!
Check out this picture of the scaffolding in West Street 7am Monday morning (yikes)! (good job fixing it guys!)