Festival grant cut was right decision, says council leader

102708-0152_GENO_WASHINGTON (MS) 28/8/2010''Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, always ready to rock the house, the King of the swingers on stage at the Gosport Waterfront Festival in Walpole Park, performing in front of a huge audience of music fans on Saturday night.''PICTURE: MICHAEL SCADDAN (102708-0152)
102708-0152_GENO_WASHINGTON (MS) 28/8/2010''Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, always ready to rock the house, the King of the swingers on stage at the Gosport Waterfront Festival in Walpole Park, performing in front of a huge audience of music fans on Saturday night.''PICTURE: MICHAEL SCADDAN (102708-0152)

Portsmouth City Council unveils its £4m budget-trimming plan

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THE leader of Gosport Borough Council has said he was justified in axeing a grant to a music festival – because a poll showed more than half of residents wanted to scrap it.

A £30,000 grant for the Gosport Waterfront Festival was ditched by Gosport council at a budget meeting last week.

Council leader Mark Hook said it was the right decision – because a poll taken before the decision was made showed 55 per cent of residents wanted to withdraw the money.

The poll was in the council’s Coastline publication, which went to every home in the borough and asked people for opinions on what areas they wanted to see cut, reduced or maintained.

On top of the 55 per cent who agreed all the money should be cut, a further 29 per cent suggested a reduction in funding. Just 16 per cent said there should be no reduction in funding at all.

But only 500 people responded to the poll.

A committee has been set up to try to raise money to enable the festival to go ahead this year.

Cllr Hook said: ‘It played a part in us thinking that we know it’s popular but there must be other ways that we can develop this. That’s why we set up the group.

‘I was surprised that those who are in favour of it didn’t send the forms back in. Everyone had their chance. It helped us to come to a conclusion.’

Gosport councillors Justin Henshaw and Chris Carter have formed the committee to look at the festival’s future.

Cllr Henshaw said: ‘We put a small committee together last month.

‘We are trying to work out how we can raise sponsorship for it. It’s something which is close to my heart. I think it’s very important for the council and councillors to give something back to the community.

‘Things have got to be cut but if there are other ways of raising the money then even better.

‘We are putting a letter out to a few of the big car companies to ask them and then we will try local companies in the town. Judging by the response we got last year it was very popular. Everyone was saying how wonderful it was.

‘I do think the people of Gosport still want the festival to go ahead.’