Town's summer festival could be axed

EXCLUSIVEBy John HowardA TOWN'S summer festival could be scrapped because of a cut in council funding, despite the event attracting thousands of people every year.

EXCLUSIVE

By John Howard

A TOWN'S summer festival could be scrapped because of a cut in council funding, despite the event attracting thousands of people every year.

Needham Market's lakeside summer festival, the community's equivalent of a carnival, costs Mid Suffolk District Council £10,000 a year to stage.


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However, it raises £7,000 from ticket sales and charities have stalls at the event to raise vital funds.

But there is no money in the Mid Suffolk District Council budget for this year's festival and stallholders have received letters from the authority informing them that it will not take place.

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Community volunteers are now trying to get funding from different organisations in an attempt to save the event.

The summer festival attracts people from the town and surrounding communities and includes a colourful procession through High Street to the town's lakeside.

Wendy Marchant, one of the town's Liberal Democrat district councillors, said: “The last I heard it was down to the Conservative administration putting no money in the budget for the authority to organise Needham Market's lakeside festival.

“But our arts office is approaching another organisation and hopes are high it can still go ahead.

“This is an event for the whole area and a good opportunity for charities to raise money through their stalls. It would be a real shame if we lost this after building the event up year on year.”

Zoey Furzer, arts officer, said a group was bidding for funds from organisations including the district council, the Arts Council and community funds to put together a package to run the summer festival this year.

She added the council wanted to fund more arts events in isolated rural areas, rather than centralising its efforts in one town.

Roger Saunders, Conservative leader of the council, said it would save taxpayers' money if the event was outsourced and stressed the administration had no intention of deliberately stopping the festival.

News that the town's festival could be at risk comes after it was revealed that Needham Market will not be entering the Anglia in Bloom competition this year because of a shortage of volunteers.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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