Spiralling costs and uncertainty over road closure and use of café facilities has resulted in the cancellation of the Addington Street Revival Fair which was due to take place in September.
Addington Street Community Group Committee (ASCG) says it has made the sad decision to cancel the fair “due to spiralling costs and uncertainty concerning the road closure and use of the café on Spencer Square, decisions which lay in the hands of others.”
The committee says it now feels the ‘writing was on the wall’ in 2019 when the event made losses of just under £1500, which the group had to cover from its very small reserves.
A statement from the ASCG says: “This year we have been utterly shocked at costs which are now beyond our financial means, with some representing a 200% increase for services deemed necessary for permission to be granted by the Events Team at TDC. First Aid cover for the day has risen to just over £900 from just over £300, for example.
“We have also found that services used previously are no longer trading, including for the essential road closure, without which the event cannot happen. Despite approaching a number of other companies, some of which have also ceased trading, we have been unable to secure a contract for the event, with the fee companies left seemingly fully booked or simply outside our budget.
“In addition, new costs have been added by Thanet District Council including payment for the ‘non-paid parking bays’ on Addington Street and the Broadway as well as a number of ‘paid parking bays’ at the top of Nelson Crescent.
“The event relies totally on small grants, fundraising and income from the sale of pitches for stalls. This year we were forced to add £5 to a small pitch now costing £35 but this has proved difficult for some as they also require Public Liability Insurance, despite the event having its own, at a cost of £747.
“Ramsgate Town Council has been very supportive providing a £2,000 grant, which will now be returned, and trying to offer advice and help to overcome obstacles. The event also relies heavily on the use of the café facilities on Spencer Square, another venue for stalls, entertainment, food and drink and the leaseholder has always been very supportive.
“However, their lease expired in September last year and with the support of ward councillors and the Friends of Spencer Square, they have been trying to get Estates at Thanet District council to enter into negotiations concerning a new lease, with little success. As a result, the facility is closed and therefore looks as if it will not be available for the event. The leaseholder provided access to toilets, electricity and water essential to our activities there.”
Becky Wing the Chair of ASCG, said even if a benefactor gifted the additional estimated £4,000 to run the event, the group simply cannot risk what happened to a recent event in Margate, when the Events Team at Thanet District Council were not able to give approval due to issues concerning the road closure.
She added: “It would financially ruin us, as bills would still have to be honoured and stall booking fees returned. We simply do not have the finances to cope given we are a small community group, with limited finances, resources and made entirely of unpaid volunteers. “Having spoken to a number of other events organisers it seems most are facing additional costs and similar issues to overcome which is sad. These events showcase our towns and communities, they generate footfall and additional income for businesses as well as bringing people together. They should not just be viewed as income generators but as events which really do increase ‘social profit’.
“It appears from discussions with organisers who run events in towns outside Thanet that other district councils apply the protocols in a less ‘vigorous way’, reducing costs and documentation which helps encourage events. The committee will be writing to the Leader of Thanet council and the new Interim CEO to see if this situation can be reviewed.”
A further massive blow to ASCG was the recent unexpected death of their longstanding Treasurer Richard Edwards.
Richard was the only original member of the previous Historical Fayre Committee and without him the Revival Fair would never have happened.
What little money ASCG had was well managed to maximium benefit by Richard and he also managed the stalls with his vast knowledge of ‘who is who and where they go’.
Becky added: “He was totally committed and always on hand to help. He was also a much-loved friend, will be greatly missed and will be an extremely hard act to follow. ASCG would like to take this opportunity of sending our condolences to Richard’s family and hope that they can take some comfort in the fact Richard was simply a lovely man, much loved, much valued and greatly missed.
“ASCG will now try to regroup, we have some ideas for the future to create a number of smaller events that will be more sustainable, less problematic and costly. We have not taken this decision lightly but in the face of multiple demands we simply felt we had no choice, too much was actually out of our control.”