Rising costs putting big events at risk

CARNIVALS and other big events in our county are hanging on by a thread.

Not because of a lack of volunteers to run them – though most could do with a few more willing pairs of hands – but because our local authorities seemed determined to force them out of business.

Last year major events were told they would have to pay for cleaning up litter.

Felixstowe Carnival faced a near �1,000 bill for teams from Suffolk Coastal Services to carry out a clean-up operation after the big parade had passed through the town.

Surely that’s what we pay our council tax for?

Thanks to the town council stepping in as honest broker, the ridiculous figure was eventually reduced to a couple of hundred pounds with the carnival getting together teams of volunteers to do a litter pick and make sure the streets and park were shipshape.

This year the carnivals were told that in addition to litter cleaning, they would have to pay for road closures – the bill for Felixstowe was set to be �3,000-plus.

Most Read

This used to be a community act by the police carried out by Special Constables.

Today those officers’ roles have stepped up a gear and they often work alongside full-time police teams on a wide range of operations.

In line with national guidelines, Suffolk Police Authority felt – and many might not disagree – its time and money would be better spent on fighting crime than ensuring people at a carnival were safe and traffic was kept away from the procession.

So the county’s police decided the closure of roads would be handled by private companies – at an exorbitant cost, which created the very real possibility that the parade at Felixstowe (and also Trimley, facing a similar big bill) would not go ahead.

Once again community leaders – this time county councillors – stepped in to negotiate a lower cost (�500) and save the event.

It is hard enough to keep these large community events going. The aim is to provide family fun and bring in visitors to the area to benefit its economy – and, most of all, raise a good sum for charity.

Each year enough cash has to be raised to stage the next year’s event, pay for the attractions, the park, insurance, and a host of other costs. Now they are having to raise money to pay for litter pickers and policing – things we already pay for.

Organisers must wonder what will hit them next.