GOSPORT’S council was forced to settle an unpaid bill from a privately-run music festival after organisers failed to pay, The News can reveal.
The council had to fork out nearly £500 for an unpaid PRS bill from Gosport Waterfront Community Festival in 2012 – or, as the landowner, could have faced legal action.
It comes after councillors had agreed before the festival, held in June last year, that the authority would not provide any cash for the festival.
Cllr Peter Chegwyn, Lib Dem opposition leader, said he feared the council could be liable for other bills for festivals in the borough.
Firms were left asking for £12,000 after this year’s festival at Walpole Park, run by a separate company.
Cllr Chegwyn queried the council paying the 2012 bill at full council on Wednesday.
Cllr Chegwyn asked: ‘Is the chairman aware that other Gosport-based businesses claim they are also still owed thousands of pounds by Mr David Smith and DLP Festival Management? Does the chairman believe this presents the council in a favourable light?’
Cllr Burgess said the council had no contract with DLP and that Mr Smith, who was a director of the 2012 firm, was not responsible for the unpaid bill.
Mr Smith said there is one bill from local firm Technical Services under dispute.
Cllr Burgess said: ‘The council as landowner was liable to pay the sum of £475.20 in respect of the performing rights as the organiser did not pay. The organiser of the festival – not Dave Smith or DLP Festival Management Ltd – is obliged to pay this back to the council and agreed to do so.’
‘I am not aware of any local company that is in the position described.’
Council officers have confirmed the organiser is now paying back the cash.
Cllr Chegwyn added he wants reassurance the organiser Dale Fletcher, and Dave Smith would not be allowed to hire Walpole Park without businesses being paid back.
Cllr Burgess said: ‘Officers have everything in hand and providing everything is paid back there’s no reason why anyone should not be able to hire Walpole Park.’
The News was unable to speak to Mr Fletcher.