AT NIGHT you can see the lights of Bournemouth from the eerily quiet West Wight coastline; and we can perhaps all agree what a good job it was that a couple of miles of water separated us a fortnight ago, when the Dorset resort descended into a vision from hell.

While in no way downplaying what Islanders have suffered in the pandemic, there have at least been no mass invasions of our beaches and countryside, with loutish behaviour and the attendant risk of a spike in infections — and in deaths of elderly and vulnerable people.

And then someone decides to organise a music festival.

With considerable fanfare, Great Wonderfest 2020 was unveiled, with all the appearance of a deal done, billed as the UK’s first socially distanced “safe and spacious” festival.

The bandwagon was rolling even though, as became clear almost immediately, the required licence application had not even been submitted to the IW Council, let alone approved.

Details were sketchy. No line-up, no prices, and perhaps most important, no numbers — last year the organisers wanted a licence for 14,999 on site, aiming to sell 10,000 tickets.

As for Covid counter-measures, there would be three-metre square pitches, pre-bookable by families of up to six for the day, with 1.5-metre gaps between pitches.

Everyone would be safe the whole time. The friendly and professional stewards would see to it.

Guys, I don’t think so. People go to music festivals to enjoy themselves; to dance; to socialise; and of course to eat and go to the loo. Sitting cross-legged in a field, in your own little bubble and maintaining social distancing at all times, simply isn’t going to happen.

More genteel than Bournemouth, no doubt, but not a Sunday School outing either.

But no matter. Politicians find bandwagons very seductive. First to climb aboard with words of praise was Cllr Wayne Whittle, whose council cabinet portfolio includes tourism.

Wonderfest also published a ringing endorsement from MP Bob Seely, who thanked the organisers for “all their hard work over the past few weeks to get this event happening”.

No mention from either of them, curiously, of the missing licence. But that was about to change.

On the same day the little-known Safety Advisory Group, which advises the council on sports and public events, weighed in with an unambiguous “no”.

Whether SAG’s meeting was pre-planned or driven by events of the day I know not, but I would like to have been a virtual fly on the wall.

The group, bringing together expertise from police, fire service, NHS and environmental health, among others, quickly determined that the planned event fell foul of government guidelines in relation to mass gatherings, and the restriction on live entertainment in front of live audiences.

Matters could be reconsidered should the rules change. Until then no licence will be forthcoming.

Thank goodness for a group of people with their feet firmly on the ground. The SAG is correct.

Music festivals are important part of the Island scene, and its economy. They should return, with public consent, when it’s safe for them to so.

Other major players in the hospitality sector are busily planning for next year. That is what Great Wonderfest should be doing.