THE future of the Gosport Waterfront Festival is in jeopardy after the council withdrew its funding.
Gosport Borough Council has scrapped the £30,000 funding for the three day festival in the town, as part of the £2.2 million cuts the council has made for the following year.
But now, members of the public and local companies are being asked to dig deep and help save the festival by raising money.
Last year, thousands of people turned out to the free three day festival to see the likes of Showaddywaddy, Geno Washington and The New Amen Corner.
Mark Hook, leader of the council, said: ‘It’s one of the casualties of the budget.
‘What I’m saying to councillors is if they could raise the £30,000 in sponsorship, there is no reason why it can’t go on.
‘We have a little committee that meets who would be only too happy to hear from people.
‘It’s a popular event but when we are looking to reduce the budget significantly then it’s these things that are nice to have but not essential that we will be looking at reducing.
‘I have asked a couple of my councillors to try to get fundraising and secure sponsorship.
‘At this stage we aren’t saying there won’t be a festival, but if there’s anyone willing to help they would be quite happy to talk to people and form a committee to try to put on a festival.
‘It’s very popular. There are a lot of people that would like to see it continue in the community and hopefully a few of those will come forward and save the event.’
Peter Chegwyn, leader of the Lib Dems in Gosport, said: ‘It’s foolish and short sighted. It’s a big popular event.
‘Over 5,000 people attend every day of it each year.
‘Cllr Hook admitted it was a roaring success and now he’s scrapping it – the one big event the council organises.
‘It will lose local businesses thousands of pounds.
‘They are local firms. The festival brings a lot of money into the town centre. It will cost the local community a lot more.’
It’s not the first time the festival has been hit with problems.
In 2009, it was in financial trouble after Hampshire Police doubled the cost of policing for the event.
But the Gosport Ferry agreed to step in and sponsor the festival to ensure it went ahead as planned.