Cash-strapped Portsmouth council can’t afford to mark St George’s Day

Emsworth always holds a large St George's Day parade - such as this one last year watched by Ship Inn staff, from left, Clare Littlefield, Katie Harrington and landlady Jane Murray - but Portsmouth City Council says it can't afford to organise an event
Emsworth always holds a large St George's Day parade - such as this one last year watched by Ship Inn staff, from left, Clare Littlefield, Katie Harrington and landlady Jane Murray - but Portsmouth City Council says it can't afford to organise an event
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BUDGET cutbacks have dashed hopes of a St George’s Day celebration arranged by Portsmouth City Council.

Hopes had been raised the council’s events team would be able to fund a city-wide celebration of the nation’s patron saint next year.

However, the motion – called by Ukip leader councillor Colin Galloway in July – was swept aside by council top brass at yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

Instead, the councillors agreed to backing a drive to get the community to host its own celebrations on the day.

Explaining the situation, councillor Linda Symes, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: ‘With our budget pressures we couldn’t support any more events.

‘It’s important that we encourage people and help people to market St George’s Day but we have had such severe budget cuts – some £33,500 that has been taken from the events team alone – that we can’t possibly arrange or organise them.’

Cllr Symes added the council’s event team was already preparing to mark two major national events next year – the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the 90th birthday of the Queen.

Both the events were taking place around the same time as St George’s Day, next year.

Council leader Donna Jones added the Shakespeare event was ‘a massive celebration’ and one the council had to prioritise.

However, in spite of this, the cabinet did agree to promoting the patriotic celebrations of St George, as well as other UK nations’ saints.

To show its support of the feast days, the respective nation’s flags will be raised outside civic offices.

Councillor Ken Ellcome added: ‘I fully support St George’s Day – it is our English national day.

‘I think of all the four nations, the English are least inclined to celebrate their patron saint.’

The council also agreed to offer any support to community groups hoping to arrange street parties.

The committee agreed the authority’s events team would continue to co-ordinate any activities as part of the national celebrations of the Queen’s birthday and Shakespeare’s death.

St George’s Day is on April 23.