Town council leaders at loggerheads over festival cuts

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The deputy chairman of Morecambe Town Council says that unless the council improves, it might as well not exist.

Darren Clifford blasted the council’s decision to cut grants for Morecambe festivals by £25,000, saying the council was rife with “wise monkey politics”.

But David Kerr, chairman of the council, said he found his deputy’s comments “offensive” and “nothing more than political electioneering”.

In a letter to The Visitor, Mr Clifford accused Morecambe Bay Independent (MBI) councillors of showing a “lack of support for the local festivals programme” and of regularly displaying “ills and incompetence”.

“It seems on the face of it that (leading music promoter) Steve Middlesbrough has disproportionately borne the brunt of cuts to the festivals programme,” said Mr Clifford.

“I wonder: has he had similar run-ins with the MBI party in the past? Or am I imagining things?

“Morecambe Town Council can do better, it must do better, or it might as well not exist.”

Mr Clifford also said the council should have spent £50,000 put aside for a possible town council office on festivals instead.

“This money is sitting down the back of the settee achieving nothing for local people and they have told us they want us to support festivals,” he said.

Councillor Kerr said: “Members did listen to festival providers both at committee level and at full council.

“Had Mr Clifford been present at the previous two council meetings he would have been involved with the very issues he claims ‘fell on deaf ears’. (He) then says ‘let’s spend the reserves this year’. So what happens next year when there’s no reserves left?

“He then further claims to represent those who care for Morecambe by not attending meetings and then unfairly criticises the council without warning.

“I firmly believe there should be no party politics within the council and that Mr Clifford should cease his political posturing and engage the budget process along with everyone else.”

Mr Kerr said the council will form a working group to test its own vision for festivals and look at opportunities for external funding for its festivals programme.