Wilmslow Business Group has decided to disband their events team as they have been unable to secure the necessary funding from the business community to deliver their plan.
In April 2016 Wilmslow Town Council agreed to provide a grant of £12,000 to the Wilmslow Business Group for the next two years which would go towards the salaries of their events team.
This provided a third of the required funding, with one third supposed to come from the business group subscriptions and the final third from sponsorship of the events held during the year.
Town Clerk Matthew Jackson said "The group has not been able to cover the commercial financial elements during 2016/17 although to their credit have delivered the full programme of events that they promised when taking a grant from Wilmslow Town Council at the start of the financial year.
"Although the Town Council guaranteed a two year funding package the business group will not be taking the great for the second year."
He added "The result of this decision is likely to be the loss of numerous Town Centre events in 2017 including the Christmas Lights Switch On event in November."
As this event was previously directly funded and organised by Wilmslow Town Council it was proposed and unanimiously approved that the Christmas Lights Switch On be taken back in-house and fall under the responsibility of the Town Council's Community and Order Committee.
In order to fund this they agreed to transfer £8000 from their grants and donations budget (where they were paying £12,000 per annum to Wilmslow Business Group from) to their events budget.
Catherine Mackenzie, Chairman of Wilmslow Business Group:"With a heavy-heart the WBG Board has decided to disband the Events Team for the time-being.
"The original funding concept for the WBG Events Team was that over time the Team would become self-financing through growing the sponsorship income from the public events we organise. After three years, we are increasingly finding it difficult to secure this sponsorship. This means that the Team is being funded mostly by WBG membership subscriptions, with match-funding from Wilmslow Town Council. This is not sustainable. It has also prevented WBG from focusing on our member-only events and activities.
"The objective of the public events was to increase interest, vibrancy and footfall within the town centre. This clearly benefits the retailers and leisure operators in the town centre. A number of the high street businesses have fully supported the Events Team. However, there is a significant number of high street businesses that have not got behind the Events Team or the Business Group; but still benefit from the increased footfall. These businesses are in effect benefitting from WBG's work, whilst not contributing themselves, which is unfair on WBG members.
"WBG will deliver the forthcoming planned events Food & Drink Week (24th-29th April) and Wilmslow Rocks (10th – 17th June). In addition we will continue to work closely with Wilmslow Town Council to support events such as the Christmas Lights Switch On."
Speaking about the Motor Show, Catherine said "The Motor Show, which was the brainchild of Steve Kennedy of Mailboxes Etc, is the most successful WBG Event, bringing over 30,000 people into Wilmslow. We are therefore keen to deliver the Motor Show. But it takes an awful lot of work, and without an Events Team would again be left to a small team of volunteers, who have their own businesses to run. The WBG Board is therefore still considering whether it can go ahead, but at this stage it is looking unlikely."
We have also received confirmation that the Wilmslow Art Trail will absolutely be running this year from 13-15 October as per our previously published article. It is being run by Georgie Johnson, as an independent organiser, along with the participating artists.