Town council defends stance over Riverside

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STAMFORD Town Council has defended its stance after this summer’s Riverside Festival was cancelled.

Organisers of the music event took the decision to call off the event, which was due to be held on The Meadows in July, because it said it was unable to reach an agreement with the town council over whether it could use the land or charge an entry fee.

A statement issued to the Mercury yesterday by town clerk Patricia Stuart-Mogg said the town council had “always unequivocally supported the charitable objectives” of the festival.

And it said the organisers had not submitted a formal application to hold the festival this year.

The town council had requested verified audited accounts from the Riverside Association. The statement said this related to the organisers’ intention to hold a fringe festival, green festival and workshops in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, called the Cultural Olympiad, and an application for a £1,000 grant towards this.

The statement said: “Stamford Town Council’s requirement to submit verified audited accounts in respect of applications for grants of public money is entirely normal, fiscally prudent and best commercial practice to ensure sound judgement and complete transparency.

“This requirement is especially relevant where significant sums of money are involved such as the considerable revenues generated, not least from the volume sales of alcoholic and other beverages.”

The statement said the organisers’ “reluctance” to provide the accounts was “regrettable but entirely their own decision”. The statement said this was a “unanimously held decision” and the town council would welcome further talks with the organisers.

The Riverside Association had already secured £20,000 of funding towards the event.

Jenny Collins, one of the event’s directors, said they had been trying to discuss the event with the town council since June and had not submitted a formal application because they did not know the new terms and conditions to use The Meadows.

These were provided in December but the association said this did not leave enough time to organise such a big event or look for an alternative venue.

Jenny added: “It is incorrect that the town council require audited accounts solely in relation to grant applications and not in respect of the 2011 festival itself.”

She said that in the minutes of a town council meeting on November 9, it states: “It is proposed and seconded that in respect of the Riverside Festival Association verified audited accounts must be provided before any confirmation is given in respect of the use of any land owned by the town council. This was unanimously agreed.”

She said Stamford Town Council had been provided with accounts, which had been independently examined by a qualified chartered accountant and the Charity Commission had said a full audit was “legally unnecessary”.

Organisers are hoping to stage the event in 2012.