Having competed in the North West Area for the 17th time, I recon its got to be time for a change of venue. The cons are well and truly outweighing the pro's in my humble opinion. For starters I make no bones about the fact I HATE BLACKPOOL as Morrissey once wrote "Its a seaside town, they forgot to close down" the general feeling of absolute depression about being in the hell hole while not being over important to the issue, isnt exactly inducive to a wonderful performance. The facilities (or lack of) have always been a bit of a in joke with bandsmen, but banding is trying to place its self in the 21st century and to go on to a stage that is on a slope an Alpine ski resort would be proud of in the most important contest of the year having not being allowed to play a note and shivering from the cold is far from ideal. The acoustic is absolutely dreadful and the connection with the audience is none existent. If the contest was a relatively minor regional style contest like Fleetwood or Pilkingtons (or whatever its called now) for example then OK I and im sure most other bandsmen would cut the organisers some slack. but like I said before, the contest is THE most important competition of the year and as far as the championship section goes, it allows progression to the Royal Albert Hall, the difference between the two venues is beyond quirky its laughable!! So where could it be held? Preston Guild Hall? Well I dont exactly rate that acoustic either and I dont know what facilities there would be two home all sections plus trade stands. The Lowery? Never played there but I believe its poor. The Bridgewater, fine hall but again probable logistical problems and the same could be said for King Georges Hall Blackburn. Off the top of my head the only venue that screams out to me is the Royal Northern. A number of halls under one roof, trade stand friendly, drinking friendly!! Warm up facility, one or two OK acoustics, also much nearer for most bands who compete in that area, cutting down the cost of transport, and above anything else it would mean a major banding City gets a contest again, Manchester, one of the capital cities of banding not having a major contest is a modern day disgrace. Maybe from a financial prospective, it would also entice a few more people through the door if its combined with playing decent music like at the weekend!! Anyway that's just some of my thoughts. After a personally successful weekend for me and my band people could be thinking well what have you got to moan about..fair enough..all I do know is if I had played a absolute stinker and not qualified, I would of left thinking well how well could i have played if the venue wasnt akin to Guantanamo bays Camp X-Ray!!!