Winter festival axed in funding crisis

NO FUNDING ... Eddie Palmer looking for funding for Washington Village Festival.
NO FUNDING ... Eddie Palmer looking for funding for Washington Village Festival.
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A WINTER festival has been frozen out due to funding problems after just one year.

Organisers of Washington Village Festival said they are dismayed cash could not be found to repeat the success of last year’s inaugural event.

An estimated 7,000 visitors flocked to November’s one-day festival, but hopes of a repeat have been left in tatters after £10,000 of funding could not be secured.

Instead they expect to settle for a much smaller show costing just £600.

Organiser of the festival, Eddie Palmer, 67, said: “It is hugely disappointing that we can’t have the festival that we would like. Last year’s event far exceeded anything we could have imagined. People came from all over and had a great time. It helped the village retain its identity.”

Eddie, a retired manager of Newcastle Central Station, added: “The organising committee didn’t formally apply for funding because enough people within the council made it clear straightaway that we wouldn’t get any money.”

The 2011 festival proved a huge hit with residents and saw roads in the village closed to allow a host of free events to take place in and around the village green.

There was a marquee for live music and entertainment and another for stalls.

Choirs from four Washington Primary Schools took part, along with brass and swing bands and a host of other groups.

Holy Trinity Church and Washington Old Hall also opened their doors to visitors for the festival.

The council gave £15,000, of which £12,500 was used, including £4,500 for new Christmas lights.

But Eddie insists that funding this year was never an option.

He said: “I was told straightaway that the answer would be no, which is a great shame.

“We have secured £500 from the council which will cover most of the cost of a trimmed down event.”

Eddie has now vowed to stage a small-scale music event in Holy Trinity Church on November 24 .

Coun Bernie Scaplehorn, chairman of the Washington Area Committee, said: “The city council and the Washington Committee are always pleased to consider applications from the community for events and projects that the community and residents can enjoy and benefit from.

“We continue to support many different leisure and cultural groups in what are very difficult financial circumstances.

“Last year the Washington committee granted more than £350,000 to support a range of area projects and organisations.

“Anyone wishing to find out what grants and support could be available should contact their ward councillor.”

Twitter: @sunechohannah