Threat to Barnstaple Carnival

THERE are fears for the future of Barnstaple carnival, which looks under threat this year due to a �3,500 shortfall in its budget. The organising committee of just eight volunteers say they will be hard pushed to put on what would be the town s 80th ann

THERE are fears for the future of Barnstaple carnival, which looks under threat this year due to a �3,500 shortfall in its budget.

The organising committee of just eight volunteers say they will be "hard pushed" to put on what would be the town's 80th annual procession this year in light of severe financial restraints.

Chairman Arthur Windsor said the carnival coffers were running dry due to increasingly punishing overheads and ever-dwindling collections.

"As it stands, we need to find another �3,500 just to break even this year. It costs around �9,500 to put the carnival on and we've got just over �6,000 in the bank," Mr Windsor told the Gazette.

"If it does go ahead this September, it may well be the very last year that we are able to do it; at this stage there certainly won't be any fireworks this year."

According to accounts seen by the Gazette, the 2009 carnival cost the committee �9,249.07 to put on. Outgoings included �3,000 for fireworks; �850 for trophies and engraving; �500 for insurance; and �160 for road closures. Other costs included barriers, portable toilets, prize money, and music licences.

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In recent years, increased running costs have already placed extra financial pressures on the organising committee.

In 2008, 75 per cent of the total collected was given back to charities, while of the �3,147.64 collected at the 2009 carnival, only 60 per cent - �2,021.57 - was shared out among 23 worthy causes.

By comparison, around �4,000 was collected during the 2004 procession.

The total income generated from the 2009 event - including �2,300 in donations and sponsorship from Barnstaple Town Council, local businesses and the Showmen's Guild - was �6,906.06, a shortfall of �2,343.01.

"We have to pay out a lot of money before we get anything back - the costs of putting on the event go up and up and we tend to get back less and less," said Mr Windsor.

"If it goes, Barnstaple will lose one of its proudest traditions and it's the smaller charities, such as nursery schools and children's after school clubs that will lose out.

"In 2008, we said that we couldn't afford to put on a firework display and we were crucified for it. In the end, a display was only put on at the eleventh hour because someone offered up the money for it.

"Everyone is struggling to find the money to put events like these in the current climate, but we can't sustain these kind of costs because we no longer have the reserves to do it.

"The hope is that the carnival will go ahead this year and we are appealing to the businesses in this town, be they big or small, to please get in touch and offer whatever help they can.

"Every little helps whether they can help sponsor something small like the hire of the toilets, or big, such as the firework display."

Mr Windsor said the hope was to attract enough sponsorship to cover the cost of the carnival.

"The dream is to finally make the carnival self-sufficient so that we can give everything back to charities in the town that need it."

Anyone who thinks they can help out is asked to telephone Mr Windsor on (01271) 328278, email arthurw58@btinternet.com or attend the carnival committee AGM next Wednesday (February 3) at the Guildhall, starting at 7.30pm.

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