Plea for support to save gala days

Grangemouth Children's Day is just one of the galas under threat
Grangemouth Children's Day is just one of the galas under threat

Organisers have warned a popular Children’s Day will not survive without more cash.

The entire community has been urged to get behind the Grangemouth event – or risk it folding.

The rallying call came as Falkirk Council slashed spending on this and similar gala days by 10 per cent, while running costs went through the roof.

The local authority said it is still committed to backing the Grangemouth event and in the past two years the organising committee had received £25,000 of support in one form or another.

But, with Grangemouth and Bo’ness Fair Day, which takes place tomorrow (Friday), the only two major community festivals remaining in Falkirk district’s once-packed summer calendar, organisers said everything possible must be done to ensure they continue.

Even last weekend’s inaugural Bonnyfest event in Bonnybridge appears to be already under threat due to behind-the-scenes infighting.

William Lyon, president of Grangemouth Children’s Day committee, said: “I wonder how much longer will we be able to hold this event?

“The question I would ask is ‘Are our councillors or their officials intent on bringing to an end all local gala days like ours?’

‘‘All we are looking for is a grant which would help our non-profit making organisation continue to provide a day of fun and entertainment for the primary school children of Grangemouth, their parents and the surrounding population.”

However, a contentious issue with many of those involved in similar community events is the council spending TWICE as much on Bo’ness Fair as it does on all the other gala days across the district.

Last year, the Fair committee received £33,810, while all the other galas were given £16,080 between them. There has been an across the board cut of 10 per cent for the current financial year.

After a washout on Saturday, with the heavens opening 30 minutes before Grangemouth’s crowning ceremony in Zetland Park, the organisers said their income at the gate was well down, with only £1000 collected.

But according to Mr Lyon: “Considering the reduced numbers, the public was very generous because even on a good day, with crowds in excess of 15,000, the highest gate collection we had was £2400 – which equates to 16p per person.”

The bill for staging Grangemouth’s Children’s Day is now around £15,000. This includes public liability insurance which has risen from £275 to £1360, printing costs of around £2000 and catering costs of £3000, as well as the hire of sound equipment, payment for bands and outfits for the retinue.

The majority of the support given by the local authority is in kind, including providing a stage and security. But the Children’s Day president said they were also looking for a financial contribution.

Mr Lyon said: “The last grant we obtained was £3500 in 2007 which helped balance the accounts and was greatly appreciated. However, despite submitting applications for grants in 2010 and 2011, the council has refused to award a grant.”

He said the reasons given was that the local authority provided the platform and the committee had sufficient cash in the bank, raising concerns that they were being penalised for having a “rainy day” fund.

He added: “The reason we have had a Children’s Day for over a century was due to bequests and donations from Grangemouth business people and residents who generously supported the event, with the money invested in local banks and Falkirk Council bonds.”

Fiona Campbell, the council’s head of policy and performance review said: “The Children’s Day has received support from Falkirk Council for many years with both in kind and direct financial supports.

“In the last two years they have received around £25,000 of support. The council has to account for public money so all applications are assessed according to agreed criteria.

“We will continue to work with organisations in the future that put a tremendous amount of effort into organising these important community events each year.”