Plea for business to take over event after council cuts carnival funding

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 December 2019

Weston Carnival, Hot Rock CC  Voyage to Valhalla.    Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Weston Carnival, Hot Rock CC Voyage to Valhalla. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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Weston’s largest annual event may be in jeopardy after thousands of pounds worth of North Somerset Council funding runs out next year.

Weston Carnival, Vagabonds CC Awaken the Dragon.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston Carnival, Vagabonds CC Awaken the Dragon. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Under the authority's previous Conservative administration, it has decided to make Weston Carnival 'self-sufficient' and withdraw around 100 hours of staff time from the event as well as the majority of its funding.

The town's carnival committee has since launched an appeal for a small business to take over the charity's year-round work and says the council's funding has been worth around £20,000 over the past three years.

Weston Carnival celebrated its 50th anniversary this year and its committee spent around £35,000 to run the parade through Weston.

Chairman of Weston Carnival, Terry Gilbert, said: "We are very grateful for North Somerset's support, but we still face funding shortages from next year.

"I hope Weston Carnival continues forever, but four of us are over 70 in our committee and we need to hand the event over, preferably to a small business.

"It would be ideal for a company which can run the carnival alongside their day-to-day work and have the flexibility to run the committee as well.

"It is the last year of help we get from council funding next year, and if 10 businesses gave £100 of sponsorship to Weston Carnival to help support it, that would be ideal."

The carnival committee receives around £1,000 a year in funding from local businesses and volunteers expect to take home about £3,000 from spectators on the day.

Weston Carnival, Silent Mary Masqueraders CC.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston Carnival, Silent Mary Masqueraders CC. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

However, that leaves a shortfall of around £31,000 for the committee to find.

The carnival relies heavily on its army of dedicated volunteers who help with marshalling, judging and organising on the night.

A spokesman from North Somerset said: "The plan is that by next year the carnival will be self-sufficient.

"North Somerset Council stepped in when the event was struggling in order to save it two years ago, and the carnival is now in a much stronger position.

Weston Carnival, Mendip Vale CC  Rolling on the River.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston Carnival, Mendip Vale CC Rolling on the River. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

"The council will still support the event in lots of areas such as waste, safety advisory groups, advising on event documentation, staff time, emergency management cover and the supply of buildings on the night."

Deputy leader of North Somerset, Mike Bell, said: "Weston Carnival is an important part of the town's annual calendar and I am sure everyone wants to see it continue to succeed.

"I know North Somerset does a lot to support the carnival with some of the organisation and set up costs already, but I'm happy to meet with the committee to see what more assistance they'd welcome."


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