Axe hangs over community events in Grantham

Roy Wright, chairman of Grantham Events Group.
Roy Wright, chairman of Grantham Events Group.

The future of community events in Grantham looks bleak as the district council has pulled funding for three major dates in the town’s calendar.

Volunteers who put on Grantham Carnival, the St George’s Day family fun day and part of the Christmas market were left reeling at the news that £13,000 usually stumped up by South Kesteven District Council will go elsewhere.

And with only eight weeks to go until they would have put on a festive fun day, the Grantham Events Group committee holds little hope of being able to raise the funds itself in time.

Events Group chairman Roy Wright said: “As a committee, we are proud of Grantham, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing what we do. Everyone in this committee, young and old, deserves better treatment than they are getting from SKDC.

“I’m totally passionate about this town. I’ve run the carnival for 28 years of my life and in latter years the Grantham Events Group. And anyone who is passionate about it wouldn’t want these events to fold on the whim of SKDC and some of its members.”

Previously, SKDC has given £6,000 towards the carnival and a further £7,000 to be split between the two smaller events.

But head of community assets at SKDC Paul Stokes said the council must spend its money wisely and will promote Grantham through its own Gravity Fields Festival.

He added that the local authority cannot justify funding the Christmas fun day in Grantham when they do not exist in other towns in the district.

He said: “However, the council is still playing a major part in making sure Grantham has a fantastic Christmas. We will be organising the lights switch on, a craft market, a fairground in Wide Westgate, charity stalls, and a food court.

“We have also listened to what local businesses have told us and have now switched the dates of the events so that the lights switch on and market will be on December 1.

“We are also working with the Grantham Retailers’ Association to provide the town with a great festive season.”

According to SKDC, the Grantham Events Group was told on August 19 that funding would be withdrawn, a decision taken by the cabinet.

But Roy, 74, denies this is the case and says the decision was not confirmed until Thursday.

He added: “It’s abysmal and if the council runs the rest of their business in the same manner then no wonder Grantham is in decline.”

Grantham Events Group hopes to find alternative methods of funding to ensure St George’s Day and Grantham Carnival go ahead as planned. However, members’ hopes to breathe new life into the traditional carnival through business sponsorship and support are in jeopardy without the £6,000 previously given by SKDC.

Roy said: “I hope the community gets behind the events group and helps the Christmas market, St George’s Day and carnival continue.”

Along with many committee members, Roy believes Gravity Fields, the biannual arts and science festival which launched last year, is far from an event for the community.

He said: “Gravity Fields is not the same as the carnival.

“Isaac Newton is a part of the town and he should be celebrated.

“But it’s not going to bring people into town who will spend money in the shops.”

* Reaction to the news on Facebook was mixed yesterday (Thursday). Many people showed their support for the events, while others said they understood SKDC’s move.

Simon John Cadwallader wrote: “What rubbish b****y ridiculous SKDC should support local events.

“I believe the Christmas market won’t happen at all.”

Martin Mgirtz Girtley wrote: “Hardly anyone turns up to the carnival and most of it is the same every year and the group that organises it do well but with the little funding they do get, this maybe a good idea to scrap it! Maybe every couple of years when funding has been saved??”

Lizzie Loulabell wrote: “what about the carnival I’ve lived in Grantham all my life and the carnival one of my best memories! If it’s not on there will be so much drama and uproar next year.”