Thursday, 16 August 2012

Cornwall Council Killing our Carnivals - UPDATED

UPDATE - Lib Dem councillors have now submitted a motion for debate on this issue for the full council meeting on 4th September.

Cornwall Council has just issued a consultation paper about imposing charges on people who organise street events which require traffic management. The problem is that, for the sake of about £50,000, they run the risk of killing off local carnivals.

The background to this is the decision by Devon and Cornwall Police to hand responsibility for event traffic management to the council as from April last year. The council claims that providing advice, signage and temporary traffic management orders costs money and they want to get this back from event organisers.

That's fair enough when it comes to big commercial events like the Royal Cornwall Show, but it could land local carnival committees with a bill for £1000 or more at a time when their income is fast disappearing. Not surprisingly, many carnival committees say they cannot afford this and are thinking of cancelling their events. The same applies to some of the local road races. In the aftermath of the Olympics, Cornwall Council seems to have found a way to put paid to many athletics events making it less likely that the next Mo Farah will come from Cornwall.

Carnivals might seem a bit old-fashioned to some, but they are great community events for many others and bring together people of all ages to celebrate their town or village. From Truro's huge traditional event to St Austell's torchlight procession to Launceston's autumn evening parade, each has its own character.

So what charges does a carnival or other street event face? Whilst they are likely to continue to get general pre-event advice for free, they may face a charge for an event application or temporary traffic regulation order of up to £380.  Then there is the signage itself which the event organiser will have to borrow, hire or buy. It may be that this is a one-off cost for an annual event, but it could be hundreds of pounds. Then there is a charge of up to £200 for no-waiting cones and, finally, a charge of £60 per person for training. If you have a long carnival route then this might be half a dozen people. The total first year charge for a town carnival - anything up to £1000 or even more.

There are some events which are commercial in their nature and which can either afford these costs or adjust their budgets to take account of them. These include the big agricultural shows and some of the commercial road races. But the majority of local carnivals and road races are a different thing entirely. They rely on a series of local fundraising events and the goodwill of volunteers. In good years they might also have an event sponsor. But with the current economic climate, most don't have one this year and are unlikely to get one next.

So all this will turn a tidy profit for Cornwall Council won't it? Actually no. The officers estimate that the income generated will be somewhere around £50,000 per year. To put it into context, this is the amount that our Conservative Council Leader gave to Plymouth City Council to support their bid to bring the football World Cup to Plymouth.

I would urge everyone who has any interest in local carnivals or other events to have their say in response to the formal consultation. Regrettably, the consultation is not available on the Council's online consultation portal. For some reason they have chosen to make it paper and email only. Below you will find the draft proposals and the consultation questionnaire itself.

Charging Framework for Traffic

 Consultation Questionnaire

Local paper coverage is here.

1 comment:

Crumplehorn Cottages Polperro and Looe said...

Community and charitable events should be encouraged and supported by the Cornwall Council, as they bring the whole community together and rely on the good will of volunteers and the public to succeed.
The news that Cornwall Council is thinking of imposing a charge for traffic management etc is very short sighted and will have an extremely negative impact on local community events.
Organizations, particuarly small ones will be unable to afford the charges, resulting in much loved annual events being discontinued.