Public to get greater access to feast

THE leader of Colchester Borough Council has called for members of the public to be given greater access to the town's most prestigious civic event – the Oyster Feast.

THE leader of Colchester Borough Council has called for members of the public to be given greater access to the town's most prestigious civic event – the Oyster Feast.

Liberal Democrat Colin Sykes has requested changes that would make it "more inclusive" to ordinary people.

He was speaking on Tuesday night at a council finance panel, following a councillor's demand for an end to taxpayers' money being used to subsidise event.

Each October, hundreds of the mayor's guests enjoy a lavish five-course meal, including the world-famous Colchester oysters at the town's Moot Hall.


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Last year, of a total of 275 people attending, only 21 were members of the public who had paid for their tickets.

And although the costs of the event have been reduced significantly in recent years, in 2003, a funding shortfall of £4,300 had to be met by taxpayers.

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The best thing, according to Mr Sykes, was for the council to consider new methods of funding and perhaps to bring in variable ticket prices.

"It would be worthwhile to look at innovative ways of making the event full and also more inclusive, perhaps with extras for those who want and can afford it," he said.

"I would not like to see the price of tickets go to a level where few are sold," he said. "It is the jewel in our civic crown."

A civic panel will now look into ways to open up the event, while not increasing the burden for taxpayers.

But Labour councillor, Andy Raison, saw no problem in raising the ticket price from £55 to £88 a head.

"To the type of people coming, £88 is not a problem," he said. "As we are in a deficit situation, we should be seen to be saving wherever we can."

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