Agenda item

Public Open Forum

The public open forum will commence at 1.00 p.m. and the following formal business of the Council will commence at 1.30 p.m. or whenever the public open forum ends, if earlier.

Minutes:

The Chairman stated that because all the questions that had been submitted were addressed to the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, who had given an apology for absence, a response would be provided by the Leader. In answering the questions, the Leader clarified that all responses were in draft format and advised that a formal written response would be sent to the questioners.

 

Question 1

 

Question to: Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy (responded to by the Leader of the Council on behalf of the Cabinet Member)

From: Mark Botteley

 

“Having read through the Bourne CiCLE Festival event Appraisal Report, which I’m sure you've all read, I noticed several things.

 

And I quote:

 

"The events core aims were to raise the profile of Bourne as a destination, bring economic benefit to the town, build community engagement across the district and encourage local schools’ involvement. These aims were achieved...

 

There were also loads of positive testimonials from participants and locals...Due to shortage [of time] I'll quote just one.

 

"As long serving residents of Pickworth, we would like to thank you all for the spectacular cycle race you ran through our village yesterday. May it be the first of many. Why should Yorkshire have it all!"

 

Finally, at the bottom of the report, the words:

 

"Overall the net income of £127,681 is a welcome boost for the town. It has created a positive platform which hopefully as the number of inbound visitors increases in subsequent years, could form a significant economic boost for the town.”

 

In addition to all of the positivity from the report, Jonathan Rigby, Commercial Director of British Cycling, had made the observation whilst visiting the Festival last year, that what we achieved should be seen as a blueprint for how to run a National level Cycling Event.

 

Bearing in mind all of the above, and considering the Festival was launched as a 3-year project, I would like to ask the following question:

 

Why was the Bourne CiCLE festival cancelled by a cabinet member (Rosemary Trollope-Bellew) when the Culture Committee agreed for it to go ahead but with a lower budget?”

 

In reading the draft response, the Leader explained that Cabinet Members did not make decisions in isolation. He articulated the Council’s commitment to delivering a programme of events and festivals across the district and stated that this involved balancing the needs of local communities and visitors as well as providing value for money for council tax payers. Value for money was assessed through the development of a detailed business case that analysed visitor numbers, spend in local shops and other social and economic benefits against the cost. He added that the business case should also identify any other funding streams and the extent to which an event was supported by local residents and businesses.

 

The response stated that the Council could not wholly support the Bourne CiCLE event and no proposition had been presented setting out how Council funding could be leveraged to support an event that did not have wider financial or community support. No allocation had therefore been made for Bourne CiCLE festival in the 2020/21 budget.

 

Question 2

 

Question to: Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy (responded to by the Leader of the Council on behalf of the Cabinet Member)

From: Mark Botteley

 

“Are we having the Festival in 2021 and can we have a smaller version this year within the budget restraints as a taster for next year so it keeps up the momentum of a cycling festival?”

 

The draft response recognised how festivals and events helped make South Kesteven a more attractive place to visit and live, adding that these events needed to be well-planned and demonstrate value for money. A review of all the festivals that were supported by the Council and how that funding was spent was underway.

 

It was noted that both Gravity Fields Festival in Grantham and Stamford Georgian Festival took place every other year and on that basis the Cabinet Member was open to supporting the planning of an event for 2021; this event would need to be inclusive and of benefit to the wider resident and business communities whilst demonstrating value for money.

 

It was not possible to confirm that Bourne CiCLE festival would return in 2021, but submission of a sound business case for any event would be welcomed. The business case would need to demonstrate the economic and social benefit of staging the event, as well as a breakdown of funding and support requested from the Council and other stakeholders and sponsors. This could then be considered as part of the Council’s budget-setting process for 2021-22.

 

Mr. Botteley highlighted the risk of such a festival moving to a different area and of the district missing out.

 

Question 3

 

Question to: Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy (responded to by the Leader of the Council on behalf of the Cabinet Member)

From: Struan Cornell

 

“Why has it taken so long for the decision taken by the Culture committee not to have the Bourne CiCLE Festival in 2020? When on November 5th the Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended the festival should be approved by Council, subject to stronger budget controls.

 

In fact, for a first year event, we exceeded expectations and that has been recognised by the County SAG and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee back on Nov. 5th. it was more than a couple of cycling events...It was a community event and opportunity for Bourne - and the wider area to unite in a joint festival. We also had special cycling events for children.....THEY are our future. We met the County SAG 10 times before it was signed off and they had no problem with what we delivered.

 

We submitted an Economic Report and a Financial Report in November 2019.

 

We have been asked to supply a "relevant governance process" document...This translates as "kick it into the long grass" It was also recommended that we have a workshop...Never organised, not that it was ever needed.

 

It was also inferred that the Bourne Wheelers could receive support for their other 2020 events...but were never approached.

 

In fact, Grimsthorpe Castle were planning a special weekend as the riders passed through the estate...that will never happen now.”

 

The draft response that was read by the Leader explained that decisions of this nature took time and involved seeking a range of views. He stated that the Council would only support events that had a sound business case and could demonstrate a positive social and economic impact to ensure the best use of council tax payers’ money.

 

Reference was made to the comments about the Safety Advisory Group, which meant that the event had been staged safely, rather than reflecting on whether the event was successful or constituted value for money. The response also stated that the Council had to ensure that any event benefitted the local town and wider area in which it was staged. It was also stated that such events could not be Council-led and should not be wholly Council funded.

 

Mr Cornell asked a supplementary question, asking why £20,000 earmarked for Bourne had been diverted to the Gravity Fields Festival. The Leader responded, stating that a £20,000 allocation had been made within the festival budget but it was not allocated to a specific festival. He added that Gravity Fields Festival had its own funding mechanism.

 

Question 4

 

Question to: Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy (responded to by the Leader of the Council on behalf of the Cabinet Member)

From: Struan Cornell

 

“It has been said that there were two potential dates...End of November 2019, I was told to start planning for the 25/26th July. I was also given the revised route for both days and asked if we could marshal the revised points without any problem.

 

Why have you, one person, taken the decision that the festival will not go ahead and then put out on Twitter that "No decision has been made".

 

Can you stand up in front of these people present today and say that the Bourne CiCLE Festival will return for 2021 and 2022?”

 

In conveying the response the Leader apologised if an indication had been given that the festival would be going ahead in July 2020; this had not been authorised by the Cabinet Member. The response reiterated that there would be no guarantee that Bourne CiCLE would return in 2021 but that the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy would welcome the submission of a sound business case which would be considered through the right Council processes. The business case would need to demonstrate the economic and social benefit of staging the event, as well as the funding sought from the Council, other stakeholders and sponsors. The business case would then be considered when the Council sets its budget for 2021/22.

 

The Leader added that he had said that he would be prepared to meet with the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy and local stakeholders to discuss future options.

 

Mr. Cornell stated that if the festival was to go ahead next year, then planning needed to begin. He also indicated that key stakeholders would be willing to meet. He also articulated an aim to bring the festival back at a lower budget with more commercial input. The Leader reiterated that he was happy to attend a meeting.