Row puts future of Grangemouth festival in doubt

Will the new bandstand see festival action?
Will the new bandstand see festival action?
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The future of a music festival is in jeopardy after a row between traders and a local councillor.

Like Big in Falkirk, Grangemouth Music Festival may yet become a distant memory after two successful summers which saw a total of 80 bands and acts perform in the town centre over a several weekends.

The event, which initially coincided with the Scottish Homecoming celebrations, was seen as an imaginative way of increasing footfall in the town centre and boosting local business.

Now members of the disbanded Grangemouth Events Group, who ran the festival, say continued interference from Grangemouth Councillor Alistair McNeill was the main reason they decided not to organise the event for a third year.

Now Falkirk and District Town Centre Management is involved in talks which it is hoped could seen the festival still going ahead later in the year.

Some traders believe Mr McNeill, who used to own a pet shop in the town, had a “personal vendetta” against organisers – a claim the councillor vehemently denies.

Jim Waugh, who owns a shop in the town, said Mr McNeill had accused the events group of misappropriating public funds and called for an investigation into the matter.

Mr Waugh said: “We’ve had this allegation hanging over us for a year now and there is no truth to it – it all came from Councillor McNeill seeing a special offer for our shop on the back of a leaflet printed by town centre management.

“How could we misappropriate public funds when we didn’t receive any in the first place? All the money for the festival – around £5000 over the two years – was raised by ourselves through prize bingos and other events.

“We even used some of our own stock as prizes for the events, so we don’t want to be accused of doing something dishonest when we are trying to do something to benefit the town centre.

“Councillor McNeill seemed to be against us right from the start.”

Mr McNeill said claims he asked for an investigation into former organisers were “absolute rubbish” .

He said: “I always supported the music festival, although I was never a member of the events group. I welcome any event that brings people into the town centre, despite what some people may say.

“My heart lies in Grangemouth – I had 20 years as retailer in the town.”