Morecambe festivals funding furore

Punks at Nice 'n' Sleazy, one of the events to be hit by council grant proposals.
Punks at Nice 'n' Sleazy, one of the events to be hit by council grant proposals.
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Morecambe Town Council is under fire over plans to radically change the way it funds festivals.

Promoters are furious that the town council might run its own events in 2015 and not invite them to bid for grants.

The council would instead co-ordinate three major weekend festivals in Morecambe next year, should the plans get the green light.

Without council cash, organisers of top annual festivals, such as the ‘Catch the Wind’ kite gathering on the Promenade and the Nice ‘n’ Sleazy punk event at the Trimpell, would have to find funding elsewhere.

Brendan Hughes, an organiser of the Morecambe Carnival, said the proposal was “a travesty”.

“I don’t think many councillors will have any experience in this field and are in danger of wasting the money on a low quality event that the electorate doesn’t want to attend,” said Mr Hughes.

Kathryn MacDonald from More Music, organisers of the kite and West End festivals, said: “We want to continue our festivals because people love them, but it will be sad and make it harder without the support of the town council.”

Jason Mills, promoter of Morecambe’s North Lancs soul festival, said: “It’s disappointing.

“Our event will still happen next year but this would affect our programme.”

Ivan Harrison, promoter of Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, said: “I’m having to cut costs and money will come out of my own pocket, but the punks love coming to Morecambe so the festival will go ahead.”

The proposals were agreed on a majority vote by the town council festivals sub-committee at a meeting last Wednesday. The committee is made up of five Morecambe Bay Independent, one independent and two Labour councillors.

A spokesman for the Labour group said the plans were “disastrous”.

“Only a few short years ago the festivals schedule in Morecambe covered all 20 weeks of the summer,” he said.

“This latest development is a backward step. It is bad for tourism, business and the local community.”

Last year Morecambe Town Council had 24 applications for festival grants and awarded a total of £47,800.

The Variety Festival, the Nice ‘n’ Sleazy punk festival, the Tutti Frutti 1950s event, the Morecambe Bay Waterfest and Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage-by-the-Sea were among the events to benefit. But under the new recommendations, next year only £5,000 would be available for small ‘community festivals’.

A budget of £62,200 would fund the three town council-run events, which have not yet been determined. A final decision will be made on the proposals at a town council meeting on July 17.

The Visitor had not received a comment from Morecambe Town Council as we went to press.