Support sought to bring folk festival to life

Potential organisers of a folk festival in Bognor Regis are to be asked to come forward.

Town councillors have agreed to place a formal notice in the Observer seeking expressions 
of interest in staging the event next year.

Those who do want to revive an occasion which was popular in the town in the 1980s will be told there is money available to help them put it on.

But they will also be warned the town council will not be responsible for the festival nor will it be committed to providing long-term funding.

The suggestion by Cllr Adam Cunard (Con, Pevensey) was backed by a decisive majority of the councillors at the meeting on September 10.

He said: “We should have the folk festival but seek an outside body to run it on our behalf as opposed to organising it 
in-house.”

His proposal came after a lengthy debate about the merits of putting on the musical attraction pencilled in for September 13-15 next year.

Cllr Roger Nash (Lab, Pevensey), one of the prime movers of the festival, warned any delay in putting together the work needed to stage the festival could be fatal.

“We think we have plenty 
of time, but it takes a lot of 
time to organise events like this,” he said.

“We are looking at another two months at least going through the proper processes.

“We are sitting on a cliff edge with this.

“If we can’t push forward with it, I am afraid it is going to collapse.”

He said he had been surprised at the opposition shown towards the festival by those involved with the Rox festival.

“I am very disappointed that, from groups I thought would have helped with this, there seems to be an overwhelming hostility.

“I find that very, very sad. Rox is fantastic and will always be the jewel in the crown in Bognor.

“But there is scope for other fantastic events in the town. Who are those people working for – themselves or Bognor?” 
he asked.

A successful bid for £7,500 has come from the money provided for the town by developers as a condition of gaining planning permission.

Another £6,500 grant is also available from the town council.

Cllr David Edwards (Con, Hotham) said the festival should be like Rox.

“We don’t organise Rox. The organisers apply for a grant every year like everyone else does.

“I’ve no problem with having a folk festival. I don’t like the music but I’m sure there are plenty of people who do.

“But I’m not comfortable with the town council running it.

“It would be a massive burden on the council’s finances as well as our officers’ time. We couldn’t cope with doing it,” he said.

Some 15 Rox supporters were present during the meeting.

Steve Goodheart, who jointly founded the music and arts festival, used the meeting’s public question time to state his concern at the lack of a level playing field between its bid for town council funding and the work and money being put in to the folk festival.

“We are looking at the same kind of support from the town council,” he said.