Uncertainty over future of popular carnival funfair after 80 years

There's uncertainty over the future of the fun fair in Aldeburgh Picture: RACHEL EDGE

There's uncertainty over the future of the fun fair in Aldeburgh Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

Concerns have been raised over the future of a popular Suffolk funfair following council plans to increase charges.

Stocks Fun fair has been a part of the Aldeburgh Carnival since it began back in the 1920s.

Now, however, the fair is having to consider its future in the town following increases in the rent it pays to East Suffolk Council.

The fair claims that its rent price has increased 106% in the past year from £300 per day to £618 per day, having already seen the rent increase 25% for the previous year.

On top of that it says that East Suffolk Council is now asking them to pay for the council's loss of earnings from the Fort Green Car Park where they are based.

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"I feel like crying myself to sleep," said William Stocks, who runs the fair.

"The council see it as primarily commercial and financial but it's my family.

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"We live in Leiston. It's three miles away, it's our home gig.

"My family has been involved with it from the start. They paid for the first firework display to make the carnival what it is."

Mr Stocks said that the fair had already had to make adjustments to its time in Aldeburgh following the increase last year.

"Normally we would do five days," said Mr Stocks.

"We had to cut it back to four last year."

The family are now struggling to know what to do for this summer's carnival, which is due to be held between August 15 and 17.

"We don't know what to do. We don't want it to come to a point where we say we cannot do it another time."

Not hosting the fair would not just affect the Stocks family but others who bring rides to the event through them, said Mr Stocks.

"It will also affect the carnival," said Mr Stocks.

Letitia Smith, cabinet member for communities, leisure & tourism, said: "East Suffolk Council works with a wide variety of event organisers throughout the district. We are committed to developing a vibrant and diverse events programme all year round and we recognise the important role that events play in local communities. However, given our responsibility for public money, we must apply reasonable charges to different types of event, in a fair and consistent manner.

"The council does not recoup the full costs of allowing events on its land and the services we are required to provide before, during and after events - alongside our operational partners East Suffolk Norse - can be significant. Therefore, our fees and charges were reviewed in Spring 2019 and while commercial organisations and national charities now incur both an administrative and commercial fee, local community and charity events will only be asked to pay a basic administrative charge.

"Prices are also set based on the size of the event and our charges are based on the cost of additional services required - such as emptying of bins, additional street cleaners, administration and to ensure the event will meet all health and safety regulations.

"The funfair, separate to the carnival, is a larger-scale event and operates as a commercial organisation - therefore it is reasonable that it should pay a sensible amount towards the full costs to the public purse, incurred by the council. We have been in discussions with the funfair operators for some time and they were made aware last summer of the charges for this year's event.

"As a goodwill gesture, the fees for the funfair were charged at a 'small commercial' rate, rather than a 'medium', in 2019 due to the shorter notice period for the changes to the charges. The council explained to the organisers, at this time, that the fees would then revert to the correct category in 2020."

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