Could 'unfair' price difference threaten major Weston event?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 June 2014
SUPPORTERS of Weston Beach Race say they fear North Somerset Council is pricing the event out of the town - by charging organisers more than four times that levied against the rival Pro Nationals Festival.
More than 10,000 motor sport fans flocked to the seafront last week to enjoy two days of high-speed bike racing and stunt shows at the Pro Nationals event.
It was the first of two biking weekends set for Weston this year, with the Beach Race scheduled to hit the sands in October.
But Beach Race supporters say they think the Pro Nationals event is getting preferential treatment from authorities – even though it was only visiting Weston for a second time, whereas the Beach Race is now in its 32nd year.
A Freedom Of Information Act request submitted to the council revealed that the Pro Nationals was charged nothing for its 2013 Weston appearance, and £10,000 in 2014.
In contrast, Beach Race organiser RHL Activities was charged £45,000 last year, and will pay the same again in 2014.
Beach Race supporters say the huge difference is unfair, as it makes their event considerably more expensive, both for competitors and spectators.
One rider told the Mercury: “That puts RHL at minus £45,000 before they’ve even started and explains why their ticket price is more for a similar event. This doesn’t seem fair to us.
“At the end of the day, it’s us the riders and spectators that are losing out to the council’s charges.
“If they can ask for £10,000 from one party in the middle of the tourist season when there are lots of people around yet £45,000 at the end of the tourist season when you’re trying to bring more people into the town for a similar event with similar challenges… we don’t get it.
“The two events should not be made to compete with one another, as the more events we have the better.
“Maybe North Somerset Council doesn’t want an event in October any more?”
A council spokesman said: “Last weekend’s events went very well and we’ve had positive feedback from the organisers.
“The contract for the October beach race was carried out as a sealed tender process and RHL Activities won the tender with their financial offer of £45,000.
“The Pro Nationals event was not done under a sealed tender process and therefore the council has negotiated the rent in line with its fees and charges policy with support given to new events that it is believed are good for the town and the tourism economy.
“For over 25 years the RHL race was given the same support, with significantly reduced site fees.”