Row breaks out over Gosport festival’s free land use

Driftwood Festival organiser Paul Cobb
Driftwood Festival organiser Paul Cobb

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A COUNCILLOR and a festival organiser have clashed over the land rental fees for an upcoming festival.

Cllr Peter Chegwyn of Gosport Borough Council is adamant that festival organiser Paul Cobb – the man behind the ill-fated Gosfest – should pay land rent for Driftwood Festival this coming weekend.

However, Mr Cobb believes the number of groups he is supporting warrants the festival being a charitable event, meaning he does not have to pay to rent the land.

Cllr Chegwyn said: ‘The free rental of land for events should only go to those organised by registered charities, or in support of them.

‘When Paul Cobb, who is organising the event, made the application, he ticked the box for a commercial event.

‘Mr Cobb is not a registered charity and there is no guarantee that any profits, if there are any, will be distributed to any registered charity.

‘The main charity he’s supporting belongs to his partner – I know that charity starts at home but raising money for your partner’s business is surely not good enough grounds for being granted free use of council land.’

The charity in question is the Junk Food Project – but Mr Cobb says that he is supporting as many local groups as he can with the event.

He said: ‘When the ruling changed over, we were granted free use of the land, because we fit the category for a community event – raising money for charitable causes.

‘This will benefit lots of groups in the future.

‘For example, Malcolm Dent and the Gosportarians should now be able to get the appropriate licensing.

‘As well as the Junk Food Project, we are raising money for Square Pegs, the Give Gain and Grow volunteer group and a whole load of other groups that we will be supporting.

‘I personally have no issue with Cllr Chegwyn, and will be open and honest when it comes to answering questions about the festival.’

Leader of Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Mark Hook, added: ‘In the past, when people wanted to raise money for charity, they had to pay land rental if they didn’t belong to a registered charity.

‘Now, long as a balance sheet is provided, other people can hold events without worrying about land rental.’