Council steps in to help pay for music festival

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FESTIVAL organisers have asked a council to step in and help solve a cash flow problem.

Gosport Borough Council has agreed to help the group running this year’s Gosport Waterfront Festival with a grant of up to £42,500.

The council will pay invoices for the festival on behalf of its organisers but will also receive all income and sponsorship money.

Councillors approved the measure at an extra meeting of its policy and organisation board last night.

Tory Cllr Mark Hook, the council’s leader, says it will not leave the council out of pocket.

But critics say the money would be better spent in other areas.

Cllr Hook, said: ‘I firmly believe it will come in at no cost.

‘The organisers have put in a lot of hard work to raise the funding and I believe we have funding in place to deliver it in a cost-neutral way.

‘If there is a surplus, the council will hold on to it and that money will be ring-fenced for the next festival.

‘We have sponsors who have pledged their support for next year already.’

The council risks losing money if the festival makes a loss but Cllr Hook says tens of thousands of pounds have already been secured.

The council voted earlier this year to ditch funding for the annual festival as part of cost-cutting measures.

A group of residents, councillors and businesses took on the running of the festival and found private sponsorship.

As an unofficial organisation, the group has no bank account and asked the council to provide them with a temporary grant to help with cash flow and pay the festival’s initial costs.

At the meeting last night, the council also agreed to waive the hiring fee for Walpole Park, where the festival will be held over three days on August 26.

It will also provide printing services and some staff costs.

Lib Dem Cllr Rob Hylands, the only councillor to vote against the measure, said: ‘I just can’t see, with some of the other things we are cutting, why we would be looking at spending money when we were told we wouldn’t be spending any.

‘We were looking at cutting other things I would consider to be more important to the citizens of Gosport than this.’

This year’s festival will be headlined by Toploader, T-Rex and Chas Hodges.

Music fans will have to pay an entrance fee of £1.

Cllr Hook said Gosport-based charity Groundwork Solent is in the running to take over the festival from next year. The move has yet to be approved by the charity’s governing board.