Christmas festival in Stamford foced to change after loss of funding

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ORGANISERS of a Christmas festival have been forced to change their plans after a council withdrew its funding and increased charges for stalls.

Stamford usually receives a £5,000 grant from South Kesteven District Council for its annual Christmas festivities, but this year withdrew its support in the face of spending cuts.

The council has also increased the cost of stall hire for the event, from about £21.50 to £35.50 each.

On top of that, a new police events management group has told Stamford Town Partnership, which organises the festival, that cones must be used to line any diversion routes if roads are closed.

These cones were previously borrowed from the police, but this year organisers will have to pay to rent them.

This extra cost means the festival will no longer have stalls in Broad Street and Ironmonger Street, and will instead occupy Bath Row to minimise road closures.

Project manager Ali Hawley-Smith said: “We weren’t aware when the booking packs went out in March that there was going to be such a significant impact.

“We are not charging traders any more but we are being charged more by South Kesteven District Council.

“But I am confident that the changes are positive and we are still including the High Street.”

The new layout will take in the High Street, Red Lion Square, Sheep Market, Castle Dyke, Bath Row East, Gooch’s Court and Bath Row West.

The only road closed will be Sheep Market.

This layout offers a maximum of 186 pitches, although there will be fewer on the High Street this year after shop owners complained there were too many stalls outside their doorways.

The event will run on Sunday, December 11, from 10am until 4pm with a funfair, Santa’s grotto and entertainment running all day.

Ali added: “We used Bath Row in 2009 and it was a great atmosphere with beautiful scenery.

“I have an awful lot of volunteers that work on this project and we wanted to choose the route that was most manageable.

At a Stamford Town Council meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to ask South Kesteven District Council how much it was spending on cultural events in Stamford compared to Grantham.

Ali is still appealing for donors to make up the £5,000 shortfall. If you can help, please call her on 07791 334221.

No-one from South Kesteven District Council was available for comment.