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Aldeburgh: Carnival facing funding crisis

PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 May 2011 | UPDATED: 16:57 09 May 2011

Part of the procession at last year's Aldeburgh Carnival

Part of the procession at last year's Aldeburgh Carnival

ONE of Suffolk’s most popular and historic carnivals is facing a funding crisis due to rising costs that could put its future in doubt.

The three-day Aldeburgh Carnival, which dates back more than 170 years, attracts thousands of visitors to the coastal resort every year but organisers are struggling to balance the books.

The carnival has become the latest community event to encounter difficulties with soaring costs, particularly as Suffolk Constabulary is no longer funding policing of such events due to budget cutbacks.

Committee members have been hit by a bill of £5,000 for policing the event this year while equipment costs have risen by more than 40% to £8,500.

The overall cost of running the event has risen from less than £30,000 to about £38,000 – and even if the event is successful and enjoys fine weather, committee members are still expecting to make a loss of £1,000.

The carnival is funded by sponsorship, grants and donations.

Diana Biddlecombe, from the committee, said planning for this year’s event began last September, before the increased costs became clear.

“We have decided to go-ahead this year but we are more reliant than ever on people’s generosity and time,” she said.

“We have told our advertisers that there is uncertainty over the carnival’s future.

“We will see how things go but we may have to scale things back. We will have to give it serious consideration in the autumn.

“But it is such an institution and it will be such a shame (if we have to make cuts). We do have some reserves but that can only keep us going for so long.”

Mrs Biddlecombe said the cost of equipment, such as safety barriers and lighting, had risen dramatically this year. It means that costs for visitors such as car parking will be increased.

But the single biggest bill is for the policing of the event, after Suffolk police said it could no longer offer the service for free.

The likely funding shortfall means the committee will not be able to distribute money to local groups and causes as in previous years.

Police announced last year they would no longer be able to offer services for free to community events, in line with new National Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines.

They said the need for a police presence would be decided on a case-by-case basis and the cost of policing would depend on the nature and duration of the event.

Earlier this year, it was announced the Lowestoft Carnival parade will not take place this year due to insurmountable costs, including a policing bill for traffic control, while at Beccles the route of its carnival procession was changed because police were unable to man the traffic.

This year’s Aldeburgh Carnival, taking place on August 13, 14 and 15, will feature the usual fireworks display, lantern parade, float procession, mini-marathon, air sea rescue demonstration and a host of stalls, shows and activities. The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas will be performing in the parade.

Any businesses or individuals interested in sponsorship or fundraising for the carnival can find more information at www.aldeburghcarnival.com or can email info@aldeburghcarnival.com. The carnival committee can also be contacted c/o The Moot Hall, Market Cross Place, Aldeburgh IP15 5DS.

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