Community set to run town’s carnival day

TRADITIONAL carnival day will return to Bognor Regis next year.

A community group has been formed to ensure the survival of the summer fun. The town council has agreed to hand over the running of the annual event and Bognor Carnival Association has been formed to take on the organisation.

A spokesman said: “There will be a carnival next year on Saturday, June 6. It will start and end in West Park, as it should do, with a procession along the seafront and through the High Street. That’s what people want. This is a seaside resort and it’s important for a resort to have a carnival without any doubt.”

The association has a three-strong committee and has lined up a bagpipe band to lead the parade, 15 carnival queens from Kent and dance troupes.

But volunteers are needed to support them. A Facebook page – Bognor Carnival Association – has been set up to enable helpers to register.

“The more volunteers we have the better,” said the spokesman. “We will also be asking local businesses to sponsor us. It needn’t be money but goods in kind but we need a lot of support and we’ve had a good response so far.”

The council’s decision at Monday’s meeting ends months of uncertainty about the carnival. The new organisers will be offered support from the council’s events team and will be able to bid for a grant .

The council took on the carnival for 2009 – four years after the previous organisers at Bognor Regis Lions Club pulled out because of rising costs and red tape. This year’s carnival was the first to shun the parade along the seafront in favour of stalls in the town centre.

Cllr Jim Brooks (I, Marine) told the meeting it was time for the council to give up control.

“If people are keen, and have got the support, it can happen. We are offering the support and offering a grant.

“If we run the carnival again we will have no money to do anything else and these sort of events must come from the community,” he said.

Sandra Daniells (I, Pevensey) said: “If groups are willing to run the carnival and are willing to come forward, we should give them the opportunity to do that.

“We have to move forward and I know there are two or three groups ready to do this.”

Cllr Roger Nash (L, Pevensey) said: “The carnival is a big burden on our staff which is why we have made the recommendation it should be run by an outside group as is every other carnival in this area. If an outside group can’t make a go of it, then I’m afraid the carnival goes.”

But Paul Wells (LD, Hotham) said he feared there was too little time to organise next year’s carnival. He wanted the council to carry on watched by a community group ready to take control in 2016. His bid was narrowly defeated.