Mystery hangs over Southsea’s BeachBuggin event as council says it could go ahead while organisers say it’s been cancelled

A customised VW Beetle at 'BeachBuggin'.''Picture: Allan Hutchings
A customised VW Beetle at 'BeachBuggin'.''Picture: Allan Hutchings
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A POPULAR annual event featuring campervans and classic cars could still happen this year – despite organisers insisting they have pulled out.

Those behind BeachBuggin’ have been at loggerheads with Portsmouth City Council after claiming the authority’s constraints on the show are too stringent and undermine its values.

But although BeachBuggin’ organiser Allyson O’Connor has said there is no going back on the decision not to stage the event on Southsea Common, the council curiously stated the ‘situation may change’ ahead of a meeting between the two parties.

Ms O’Connor hit out in a Facebook post saying council requirements would mean changes to charity sponsorship, volunteers, dates and costs of the event, which has been running for 18 years in Southsea. She said: ‘There will be a huge increase in costs because of the various hoops we are being asked to jump through.’

Ms O’Connor said Portsmouth City Council had told the organisers they could only sponsor charities within the PO1 to PO6 postcode which would mean 80 per cent of the charities not meeting the criteria.

‘Even after 18 years of holding the show in Portsmouth and for the past eight years on the same date, the council bump us at the drop of a hat, we will get bumped each time a show wants the dates we have booked,’ her comment read.

In a post on Portsmouth City Council’s Facebook page Councillor Linda Symes responded by saying the authority had no objection to money being raised for charity, ‘including those outside of the city’, and said it wanted to help.

She said with the event now so popular with more than 5,000 attending it was vital to ensure appropriate safety measures were in place and care was taken with the war memorial on the sea front.

But after The News contacted Ms O’Connor to see if they were prepared to have a rethink, she said: ‘We have not re-submitted an application to the council to hold this event in Portsmouth this year and do not intend to do so.

‘Leader of the council Donna Jones has asked if we will meet with her to discuss the reasons for this decision, however we have yet to finalise a date with her.’

When informed of Ms O’Connor’s stance, a spokesperson for Portsmouth City Council said: ‘We’re sorry that the organisers of BeachBuggin’ have chosen not to hold their event on Southsea Common this year. We’ve supported this event for many years and seen it grow in size and success. We’re meeting with the organisers soon, so the situation may change.’