Future of Coulsdon Yulefest Christmas lights put at risk
24/02/2018 15:34:00......Posted by Mario Creatura
I've just heard about something rather troubling that could seriously affect the future viability of our phenomenally successful Coulsdon Yulefest's each year.
I've written to the Labour Cabinet Member responsible, Cllr Manju Shahul-Hameed, to ask for an explanation and her support:
'Over the last few years, Coulsdon West councillors have used their community ward budget to fund the Christmas lights in Coulsdon Town. This has been done in many other wards across the borough including Thornton Heath and Old Coulsdon.
They are immensely popular, and we are proud to have been able to help our community in this way.
I have just been informed that Skanska have written to the organisers of the Coulsdon Yulefest to demand payment for the electricity for running the festive lights. This has come as a complete surprise to the team of volunteers who make no profit when putting up these lights and running the festival.
All monies raised go to funding the running of the festival, the putting on of entertainment and publicising our town which serves to benefit the local economy and wider community spirit.
In five years of putting the lights up, the volunteers have never been asked to pay for the electricity. The Skanska representative has said that historic payments are not required, but that in future this is changing.
The estimate for the bill is some £200 - a very small sum for the Council but a huge amount for local fundraisers who give up much of their year to arrange our annual festival.
I would like to ask:
- Do you feel it's right that community volunteers should be asked to fund the cost of the electricity for Christmas lights?
- The historic waiver implies that the payment is new, and only recently has come into force. Was this with your knowledge and consent?
- Could you please investigate and detail the reasons for Skanska implementing this community levy?
- Dozens of residents' groups across the borough spend thousands of hours a year putting on free events, festivals and meetings to help stimulate their local area. They are the very fabric that makes Croydon the place we all love. What message do you feel it sends that the Council's contractor is adding further barriers to those groups wanting to help their neighbourhoods?
- Will you please do all that you can to stop these charges going forward?
The fundraising is a yearly slog - anything the Council can do to remove this disincentive then that would be very welcome by my residents.'
I'll update the blog when we hopefully have a positive response from Cllr Shahul-Hameed.