City’s kite festival will not have funding axed, council says

The Portsmouth International Kite Festival on Southsea Common.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142475-7) PPP-140824-024133001
The Portsmouth International Kite Festival on Southsea Common.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142475-7) PPP-140824-024133001
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ASSURANCES have been made that the future of Portsmouth International Kite Festival is not in jeopardy.

The organisers of the event feared the city council was going to pull its funding in 2016, the year of its 25th anniversary.

It comes as last year’s budget papers revealed a sponsor would need to be found to cover running costs in the future as the authority seeks to save money.

But David Evans, the council’s seafront manager, said he had no plans whatsoever to pull any funding, and is instead looking at ways of doing things cheaper.

This could mean striking a better deal with the University of Portsmouth when the council puts kite flyers up in halls of residence.

Extra income could be brought in by introducing more food stalls.

‘I have not put any cuts forward for the kite festival at all,’ Mr Evans said.

‘That has not been discussed and I would have to discuss that with councillors first. This event is great for the city of Portsmouth and great for the economy of Portsmouth.

‘We are always looking at ways of reducing costs and negotiating the best deal,’ he said.

The council put around £16,000 into this year’s event, down from £20,000 the previous year.

As well as covering the cost of accommodation, the council pays for the event’s PA system, electricity and a marquee.

Mr Evans said he would welcome any sponsor who would be interested in picking up any costs.

He also said the organisers of Victorious Festival, held last month on Castle Field on the same weekend as the kite festival, have not been asked if they want to take it over.

‘It’s difficult because they would have to then absorb the cost as well,’ Mr Evans said.

‘The kite festival is a free event but it would mean you would have to pay to get into it.

‘But how can you charge for a kite festival when you can see the kites all over Portsmouth?’

Festival organiser Jon Bloom said he was relieved by the news but remained sceptical as cuts were declared in the budget.

‘It’s a relief,’ he said.

‘But it contradicts what we saw on the council papers so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

‘It’s great for the event if that is the case though.

‘I am cynical by nature and my cynical side says I will believe it when it happens and I hope it is true.’

Councillor Linda Symes, Tory cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: ‘As far as I am aware, it is not on the radar.

‘What we are trying to do is make savings, rather than cuts.’

As reported, the council is seeking to make around £13m of savings next year.