Call to axe funding for Oyster Feast

By Roddy AshworthA SENIOR councillor has called for public funding of one of a town's oldest civic events to stop.Colchester Borough Council will discuss next week its funding of the town's Oyster Feast, which can be traced back to the reign of Charles II.

By Roddy Ashworth

A SENIOR councillor has called for public funding of one of a town's oldest civic events to stop.

Colchester Borough Council will discuss next week its funding of the town's Oyster Feast, which can be traced back to the reign of Charles II.

Hundreds of guests, invited by the town's mayor, assemble in the Moot Hall every October for a sumptuous five-course meal - which includes the world-famous Colchester oysters.


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But the funding of the Oyster Feast has been called into question because of the use of taxpayers' money to subsidise ticket prices.

Tim Young, leader of the Labour group on the council, said the event should be totally self-funding.

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“We do not mind there being an oyster feast, we just don't think there should be any cost to the taxpayer,” he added.

“The people of Colchester should not have to pay a penny towards a beano like this. Those that go can afford to pay.”

But John Jowers, leader of the Conservative group on the Lib Dem-Tory-run administration insisted some public funding for the Oyster Feast was justified.

“This event is a real showcase for Colchester - it's one of the oldest civic events in the UK and a big thank you to those who do so much voluntary work over the years,” he added.

“It always receives good coverage and puts our borough on the map and in an excellent light.”

The council's finance and audit committee will discuss on Tuesday a report on how the public subsidy for the Oyster Feast has been cut from £11,000 to £4,300.

The report, compiled by the council's head of democratic and organisational services, Louise Goodwin, also outlined a number of savings made.

These include raising the ticket price from £45 to £55, reducing the number of free tickets distributed and cutting the cost of floral displays by £1,300.

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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