Food Festival's grant funding bid divides council
councillors were divided this week on whether to give funding
to Burnham-On-Sea's Food Festival, with several saying the events
should now be self-funding instead.
£1,800 grant application from the organisers of the twice-yearly
festival sparked a heated debate during the council's Policy and
Finance Committee meeting on Monday (April 11th).
voted on the grant funding bid and were split 4-4 on awarding
Janet Keen said that in light of the festival's popularity in
attracting thousands of visitors to the town, "it should
now be self-funding."
Cllr Andy Brewer added: "The festivals are good events for
Burnham - they are now well established, but they include a commercial
element. A lot of the traders are commercial businesses who do
very well out of these events. As a council we were happy to support
the establishment of the Food Festival, but by now it should be
standing on its own feet. Now is the time to withdraw support
- it should be self-supporting."
festival co-organiser Sarah Milner Simonds said the £11,000
cost of holding the events is not met by income alone. "The
festivals are held on a not-for-profit basis. They cost a lot
to put on each time with venue hire, insurance, road closures
and more. These
festivals are not commercial events - they are held to help community
cohesion, create local jobs and contribute to the town's vitality.
We also have extras like a bursary scheme to help local businesses."
Martin Cox said: "I really enjoy the food festivals and am
always pleased to see them bringing our town centre alive. There
is a lot more to event than just the stalls, with many demonstrations
and activities too."
I'm aware that there is friction with some traders because the
events are held on bank holiday weekends, I actually think the
festivals bring more people into the town on those days."
Milner Simonds responded: "We consult with businesses to
encourage and help local traders. The events are held around bank
holiday times to increase attendance on the day but also to encourage
visitors to stay locally for the whole week, not just for the
Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said: "These are two of the busiest
weekends of the year for our traders. We made a polite request
to the Festival last year to try and avoid them because it causes
issues when our car parks are already full."
voted on the grant application and were split 4-4 on awarding
the funding. Those who voted against were Cllrs Paul Young, Peter
Burridge-Clayton, Andy Brewer and Janet Keen, while those in favour
were Cllrs David Hoggarth, Martin Cox, John Parkes and Phil Harvey.
Chairman, Cllr Mike Facey, had the casting vote and voted in favour
of the grant being awarded. He said: "We owe it to the general
public to support the festivals, but we do have reservations."
committee's recommendation to award the grant is subject to the
agreement of the full Town Council at their next meeting in early
preparations are underway for the Spring Burnham-On-Sea Food and
Drink Festival, which is set to be held on Saturday 28th May.