Organisers of a popular free annual village fete in Surfleet are fuming because they say they have been forced to charge the public an entry fee.
For the first time since the event started five years ago, visitors to Surfleet Village Fete on Sunday will have to pay 20p to enjoy the attractions in Glen Park.
We have had to introduce a minimum charge of 20p to prevent our food-related stalls from having to pay £450Organiser Jill Wright
The charge was brought in at last minute after organisers suddenly found themselves at risk of losing some of their food-related stallholders.
Jill Wright, one of the organisers, said: “One of our stallholders who has supported the fete over the years rang me in tears and said she didn’t think she would be able to afford to attend this year.
“South Holland District Council had informed her that she may need street trading consent because her stall is food-related. But under new legislation, she feared that would mean she would have to pay the council £450.
“We checked with the council and were told we have had to introduce a minimum charge of 20p entry to stop food-related stalls having to pay the £450.
“But we are fuming about it. We’ve had to change our programmes and put black tape over our posters where it said ‘free’. It’s been a logistical nightmare.
“This has meant a lot more work for our volunteers. If the council doesn’t do anything it is going to kill all the fetes and fairs in the district.”
A council spokesperson said: “The council will issue street trading consents free of charge to charitable fundraising activities. This means organisers can keep their events free to the public.
“We are more than happy to assist such organisations as we know they play a vital role in the community and wish them every success.
“However, this is quite different to commercial businesses who are trading in a street where the public have access without payment and therefore a licence fee applies for those businesses”.
l See page 45 for fete details.