Axe falls on festival

Turri Frutti Festival . The Happy Feet Dance Academy.
Turri Frutti Festival . The Happy Feet Dance Academy.
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A popular festival has bitten the dust due to the town council dragging its feet over grants, claims the organiser.

The 1950s Tutti Frutti festival has attracted thousands of teddy boys and girls to Morecambe for the past eight years – but next year’s festival has had to be cancelled because time ran out to apply for grants.

Morecambe town council is now in the process of setting up a Dragons Den-style panel for festival organisers to pitch their ideas.

But Tutti Frutti festival organiser Keith Louis this is too little too late.

Keith, who has organised the festival for the last eight years with Sue Boswell, said: “We don’t want to cancel but there just isn’t enough time to organise it.

“All I want is to organise a festival but it’s the bickering in the council.

“It’s too late to do anything now. The festival brings a lot of people to Morecambe – 86% of visitors to the festival this year were from out of town.

“This also means the town is losing a lot of revenue.

“The council are just expecting organisers to run the festivals on peanuts.

“I didn’t take any deposits and didn’t book any bands. That’s how we’ve run it for the last eight years.

“I’m very upset and I wish they would understand how festival organisers organise.

“This year we asked for £3,000 and got £1,500 and it showed in the event.

“They have all the money and they are underfunding the festivals.”

Chairman of Morecambe Town Council Nick Baxter said: “The Town Council values the Festivals Programme within Morecambe and has already committed £60,000 of funding for Festivals in 2015.

“The Council is currently considering significant changes to the Festivals Grant Application and decision making process following views expressed by Festival organisers and community groups and a further meeting of Council will be held on October 14 to determine this.

“Given that Council will be meeting further on October 14 to consider this important issue it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

The Dragons Den style panel to allow festival organisers to ‘pitch’ their ideas will be composed of five councillors from each political party on the town council, and four members of the public, who will then recommend festivals they think should be shortlisted for grants to the Festivals and Events Committee, who will in turn recommend festivals for grants to full council, who will approve the grants. The final funding decisions will be made on November 20.