Town Council grants £10,000 for annual show to help cover additional costs

wilmslowshow

Wilmslow Town Council has agreed to continue to support the Wilmslow Show and provide a grant to enable the 106th show to be held next year at its new venue which has resulted in significantly increase costs.

Last year the show relocated to Carnival Fields after 16 years at Wilmslow High School, which was prone to flooding, where it was allowed free use of the playing field. Holding the show in its new home has resulted in a considerable increase in cost. These include the cost of hiring the field from Cheshire East Council which is £650 plus £1000 deposit and the hiring of traffic management staff which CEC insists on, increased security, barriers, the cost of a shuttle bus for the Park and Ride and higher insurance rates as a consequences of cancellations due to bad weather.

To increase income, the show committee has agreed to increase entrance charges for the first time in 12 years. Adult tickets which have been £5 will be £7 if bought before the day and £8 at the gate, concessions which were £2.50 will be £4 in advance and £5 on the day and family tickets which were £12, will be £13 if pre- purchased and £15 on the day. Children under 5's remain free.

The show committee is also taking steps to lower costs, which include revising the number of competitions, reducing the size of the marquees and taking out the lighting in the horticultural marquee which saves £1500.

Councillor Frank McCarthy, who has been chairman of the show for the past 15 years, said "This is one of those things that is historic, probably for the past 50 to 60 years people have been bringing plants and things to the show up until about 10 o'clock on the Saturday night and this has involved putting lighting to do that. It's felt that the cost of lighting is such that it will not be an expectation that anybody to bring plants to bring them before it gets dark."

Councillor Angela McPake, who takes over as chairman of the show next week said "I think it's worth saying, one of the main focuses of our conversation has been about making sure we're doing stuff to help ourselves, just because we've always done it the same way doesn't mean we should always continue to do it the same way. So whether its reducing costs or upping income from the various stands - mindful of the fact we've got a community element to what we do which is obviously the free stalls we give to the charities on behalf of the town council.

"The committee would like the entrance to be free but the reality is we can't afford to do that but we think we can stand a small increase. We are quite keen that we continue to be able to offer free activities to people once inside with the intention that once you are in you don't need to spend any more, if you are on a budget. The fact that donkey rides and dog show were free and there were quite a number of activities for young children that were free is important to us."

She continued "I am fairly upbeat about the sort of conversations we have had about how we can continue to husband our costs and hopefully make it pay for itself better but we are not close to that at this stage."

To increase income, the show committee has agreed to increase entrance charges for the first time in 12 years and is also taking steps to lower costs, which include revising the number of competitions, reducing the size of the marquees and taking out the lighting in the horticultural marquee which saves £1500.

Last year Wilmslow Town Council provided a grant of £6500 and Councillor Keith Chapman suggested that they provide the same amount this year, rather than the £10,000 requested saying "Otherwise the show is actually amounting to 15% of our entire budget for this kind of activity and I just think it is far too much in terms of our overall spend."

Councillor Viveene Brooks said "I do feel that should give the Wilmslow Show our support and back it with the money because we've already cancelled now the Party in the Park, which was free for the people of Wilmslow, and I do feel it is a community event and as the Town Council we are duty bound to support it and make it a success."

Councillor David Jeffreys said "I don't want to be misinterpreted because I do want to support the show and I want it to go ahead. All I am saying is in future years we should cash flow projections, you just base it on a budget and say Wilmslow Town Council will make up the shortfall but at the moment the £10,000 is arbitrary."

Councillor Viveene Brooks added "I am disgusted with Cheshire East Council that they are charging us to hold a community based event that is principally the local people volunteering their services."

Town Councillors all voted in favour of approving the grant application for £10,000 to be used to meet the costs of the 2018 Wilmslow Show, with the exception of Keith Chapman who voted against and David Jeffreys who abstained.

Tags:
Grants, Wilmslow Show, Wilmslow Town Council
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Oliver Romain
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 3:16 pm
It would be interesting to find out if the amazing and fantastic value Poynton Show requires additional council funding. I suggest the show committee engage with Poynton show team to find out what works. Poynton show has major crowd pulling attractions and is only £8. They are likely to monetise the food and other stalls rather than increase prices (likely to result in lower attendance) and get the begging bowl out every year. I understand that the food concession fees are very lucrative.
The rental cost of the field is probably the least of the concerns and is a red herring in my view.
Angela McPake
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 5:22 pm
Hi Oliver,
The Wilmslow Show makes money from food concessions but we also donate a number of stalls free to local groups and provide free activities for Children, which we want to continue. The Town Council money allows us to do that- as well as fund the considerable extra infrastructure costs as a result of the move.

A number of our committee have worked on the Poynton Show so we are aware of their model. Their entry prices remain higher than ours even with the increase- with £10 for adults and £7.50 for concessions.
Oliver Romain
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 8:36 pm
Do the Poynton show organisers rely on council subsidy? I attend both Poynton and Wilmslow when I can. I have to say, given the choice of spending £7.50 advance (£10 on the day) for a ticket for Poynton, or £7 advance (£8 on the day) with Wilmslow, I would go to Poynton it’s far better value. Fifty pence more but you get a massive show and the likes of aerobatic displays, monster trucks or motorcycle stunt teams, to name a few, of the main ring attractions I have seen over the years. I want our local show to be better and not rely on taxpayers but I suspect under the current arrangements it may not be possible. If this is the case maybe it should be scaled back so it can self fund a more modest event.
Peter Evans
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 9:35 pm
15% of the overall budget seems rather a lot for one day. Also, more importantly in remaining days of austerity, a bit more attempt by the committee to cut their coat according to their cloth would be good - a £10000 shortfall seems like they aren't trying very hard (I would rather our town council put this amount of their budget to something more useful like funding the huge shortfall in mental health support, for example).
Stuart Redgard
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 10:25 pm
#Peter Evans.

I was in attendance at this meeting as a member of the public. Whilst Councillor David Jeffreys might have personally considered that the grant being requested was a “shortfall" and "an arbitrary" figure, he was informed that it was not a shortfall or an arbitrary figure by both Councillors Frank McCarthy and Angela McPake.

I hope this brings some clarification.
Oliver Romain
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 11:12 pm
How much per visitor is the £10,000. I am guessing 1,000-2,000 visitors. So it’s between £5 and £10 each subsidy. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to give away cinema tickets - no wait we do that already. WTC seems to be struggling for a purpose. If WTC has a good reason to exist the money would already be allocated.
Stuart Redgard
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 11:30 pm
#Oliver Romain

But we don't have a cinema in Wilmslow. I trust you don't want Wilmslow precept to be used to support businesses outside of the Parish of Wilmslow.

Or am I incorrect?
Oliver Romain
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 11:41 pm
The show finances are on the WTC website (thanks to my reminding WTC about their own transparency promises on grant funding). It’s an interesting read. Barkers paid £200 as a main sponsor. That’s all the sponsor income for 2017 - £200! Catering concessions produced very little - surprising considering the queues for low cost high margin chips and burgers. The show has gradually reduced the income from traders and sponsors and increased its reliance on WTC. The show needs to be weaned off the public purse but it won’t be. Three of the organisers are WTC councillors.....no doubt they will have abstained but they all work together. This show has had nearly £40,000 of taxpayer funding. It’s a scandal.
Oliver Romain
Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at 11:47 pm
#Stuart It was a tongue in cheek reference to the cinema in the park project. Does anyone know how much the cinema project cost and how much has been allocated for next year’s?
Peter Evans
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 6:21 am
Stuart - if WTC has to provide £10000 form this show then that means (to my simple logic) that the event makes an operational loss of £10000 - that is what I call a shortfall. If I am missing something maybe you could explain.
Oliver - we're on side on the one #scandal
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 8:49 am
#Oliver

If you had attended the meeting on Monday night you would have heard the discussions about next years budget proposals. And how last years accounts had been signed off by the external auditor.

In answer to your question, "Does anyone know how much the cinema project cost and how much has been allocated for next year’s?". The answer is yes. The Town Council do, and this information is available on request from the Town Clerk.

email:

Previous years accounts are also available to view at http://bit.ly/2zvuKUh
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 8:56 am
#Oliver.
Here’s my “tongue in cheek” response.
Don’t you realise that the Cinema in the Carrs is a free to attend event?

WTC are therefore already doing what you’ve suggested.
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 9:01 am
#Peter

WTC does NOT have to provide £10000. It has chosen to give a grant of £10000 following an application and assessment by both the finance committee and the full town council. If you had been at the meeting on Monday night you would have heard the debate and the reasons for and against the decision.
David Jefferay
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 9:22 am
Given the incoherent string of random, unrelated words that apparently came out of my mouth on Monday evening, I should explain what my concerns were and what I meant to say.

I had two concerns.

Firstly that there were no income/expenditure estimates for the forthcoming event (just costs from previous years) on which to base our decision. Without an estimate of 2018 costs it appeared to me that the approach was just 'we'll ask for 10 grand because we know they'll give us that because they have done previously'. That is the wrong approach. However, I was assured by Angela who is taking over the chair of the show from next year that this had been done but wasn't visible to us and that it will be presented that way in future.

Secondly, every year this grant application arrives and every year we say that we are supportive but the show has to start to stand on its own feet and every year we are told that they are looking at ways to reduce reliance. It doesn't seem to happen. The show should be coming up with a strategy to ensure that it covers its own costs and then only come to Wtc with evidence that there is a genuine shortfall in funding. From the application there was evidence that they'd increased entry fees to increase revenue but no evidence of increasing revenue by other means or cost reduction. I had however asked a friend who owns a very successful events company to look over the previous years costs for me and she confirmed that they were reasonable for the type of event so that went some way to allaying my concerns. In addition, Cllr Frank McCarthy also explained at the meeting that this year they had cut out some costs such as lighting in the horticulture marquee which was quite a large ticket item so that added further confidence.

On that basis I decided to abstain (I think for only the second time since joining the council).

As town council I think we are all supportive of the show but we shouldn't be relied upon for funding to ensure it goes ahead.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 3:01 pm
It’s all a bit déjà vu. This time the event will stand on its own two feet as long as you give just another £10,000.
With all the money thrown at the show wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run to grant the high school money for decent drainage. This would be a great community benefit and the school could offer the fields out to other community events.
Traffic management problems would be solved, children get to use the field more frequently and the show could continue in almost every weather eventuality.
The cinema in the park seems to be costed at £10k. Two hundred attendees @ £50 a head. Cheaper to send them to Cineworld with a slap up dinner! Even if 500 attend it’s still £20 a head. Just doesn’t add up.
Why not put the money into forming a community cinema like Macclesfield has? Low prices affordable tuck shop classic, art and contemporary films - what’s not to like? That money would easily fund the capital equipment costs. Thereafter it could be self funding.
Seems WTC is only happy if it can use its money to demonstrate how much it is needed through branded support. The grants are not supposed to be used to promote WTC, it’s illegal to use grants in return for marketing and branding
David Jefferay
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 3:57 pm
Thanks for the suggestions Oliver, I'll look forward to reading your grant application and business plan for the community cinema.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 4:28 pm
David don’t you remember the personal abuse from WTC chair over my calling them out over lack of promised transparency and bizarre grant decisions - rabbit hutches and Cheadle rifle ranges.
Glad to see all grant application and accounts now finally published but in the process it was taken *very* personally.
Holding to account does not mix well with requests for grant applications.
I do, however, have a powerful professional projector and screen I could lend out to get things started if any groups are interested.
Jackie Pass
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 6:05 pm
I love the Wilmslow Show, but I am always shocked at the huge number of similar catering stalls. As someone who has a relative in this business they make a point of not going to shows where there are too many and too similar, as they have to pay substantial sums for the right to have a pitch. The bit that interests me are what is on in the main arena, the display of cars and Barkers never fail to put on an excellent dispay and events. As to events in one of the tents where the "notables" collect to sip their champagne - that is not in the spirit of a local show.
David Jefferay
Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 6:34 pm
I do remember, yes. I think we all take criticism of our efforts/decisions more seriously than we should because of the time we put into it without payment.

Doesn't the Old Dancer do a cinema night?
Peter Evans
Friday 24th November 2017 at 6:19 am
David- thanks for outlining your comments from Monday in more detail, that was very useful. And I agree with the comments you made. What I conclude from your factual observations is that the only decision the council could have made was to defer any decision on funding til a proper cost analysis had been submitted. The "we'll just ask for £10k cos we know we'll get that" line above makes me feel very suspicious... sorry if it's just me.
Peter Evans
Friday 24th November 2017 at 6:23 am
Stuart - Davids comments indicate that it was not fully considered as most of the relevant detail was not provided. If you want to call the shortfall a grant then fine, maybe I'll coal it a goat. The fact is the show is predicting to make a loss of £10k or 15% of the money that our community pays these folk to fund things on our behalf. And that imho is way too much, and has way too little scrutiny given before the decision was passed.
David Jefferay
Friday 24th November 2017 at 8:06 pm
Peter, slight correction on the proportion of the budget. Cllr Chapman said it was 15% of the budget we have for this kind of activity, it's not 15% of our total funding.

Some people will think that's we've allocated too much to events, etc but my view is that it adds a great deal to the town and does make Wilmslow a better place to live.
Pete Taylor
Friday 24th November 2017 at 11:26 pm
I have no axe to grind here but I do remember the personal abuse that Oliver received from the WTC Chair(!) regarding bizarre grant decisions. I'm slightly uncomfortable when the incoming Chairperson(?) is quotedas saying: " Councillor Angela McPake, who takes over as chairman (sic) of the show next week said "I think it's worth saying, one of the main focuses of our conversation has been about making sure we're doing stuff to help ourselves..."
I'm often wrong but... did the incoming Chair man/woman/person vote to give £10k of our money to a one-day loss-making (year after year) event which she was about to become the Chair (etc) of?
Oliver Romain
Sunday 26th November 2017 at 6:11 am
Pete: I just assumed that the councillors involved in the show abstained at the very minimum but, after re-reading, I realised to my horror that they not only took an active part in the meeting but also voted for their own organisation to receive the cash! If you look at the quotes when they say ‘we’, which is quite often, they don’t mean WTC they mean Wilmslow Show. Why on earth weren’t they stopped? It is a very clear conflict of interest.
Was it same with the church organ grant plan that mysteriously disappeared and the chair huffed and puffed saying that membership of a religious congregation is nothing to do with the council. Which is true, unless the councillors are voting to rent offices from the church and to give thousands in grants whilst also members of the congregation.
Oliver Romain
Sunday 26th November 2017 at 6:42 am
Does anybody know if the councillors who are or were about to become members or organisers of the show and its society sought dispensation to attend this meeting? I believe it would be illegal and potentially criminal if they didn’t. If the meeting was unlawfully convened it is possible that the grant is unlawful and the ‘decision’ could be reversed or at least put on hold.
Angela McPake
Sunday 26th November 2017 at 10:39 am
Oliver, every Councillor declares an interest in any agenda item and a dispensation at the start of every meeting. Both myself and the outgoing Chairman did that at the start of this meeting.

Cllr Angela McPake
Oliver Romain
Sunday 26th November 2017 at 8:12 pm
Angela from your answer it would appear that if dispensation was given for you to attend, participate and vote in favour of a grant to an organisation you have an interest in then the award of the grant at best falls below standards expected of local government and at worst could be illegal or potentially criminal. It is the duty of WTC to act both lawfully and morally. Councillors should come clean about all the grants awarded to organisations they have an interest in.
Malcolm Elliott
Wednesday 6th December 2017 at 3:29 pm
This is what we need in Cheshire East.

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On his first morning as Mayor of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, Peter Davies cut his salary from £73,000 to £30,000 then closed the council’s newspaper for "peddling politics on the rates".



Now three weeks into his job, Mr Davies is pressing ahead with plans he hopes will see the number of town councillors cut from 63 to just 21, saving taxpayers £800,000. Mr Davies said: "If 100 senators can run the United States of America , I can’t see how 63 councillors are needed to run Doncaster ".

He has withdrawn Doncaster from the Local Government Association and the Local Government Information Unit, saving another £200,000. Mr Davies said, "They are just talking shops".

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