9:17am Tuesday 10th April 2012
By John Keenan, business editor
The organisers of a food and drink festival have issued a ‘back us or lose us’ ultimatum to Brighton and Hove City Council. The Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival attracted about 160,000 people to events across the city from March 30 until yesterday. Last year’s event picked up the award for leisure and tourism at the Sussex Business Awards.
But organiser Nick Mosley said that future events need more support from the local authority. Last night the festival committee and friends of the festival bared all to raise the profile of the festival and the importance of supporting the local food economy. Images of the organisers and supporters were beamed on to the town hall building in Bartholomew Square.
Mr Mosley said: “It is deeply frustrating that our council cannot see the benefits of the food festival and all our spin-off activities in terms of communities, culture, health, and the visitor and food economies. “We ask that we aren’t charged for the use of public land for our free events as that tax is now taking about 60% of our budget which is money we’d rather be allocating to creating more free events, workshops and local food promotions. “Other local councils cannot believe the lack of support for the food festival when for them, food and drink is at the heart of their economic development policies.
“Our pleas for the council to engage have fallen on deaf ears, and we hope our Naked Food Love campaign is a wake-up call.
“Unless the council supports us, the festival will not be able to exist at its current size or scope of activities. This would be a tragedy for the city as we celebrate our tenth year.”
Food and drink businesses queued up to support the festival.
Tina Horvath, owner at CanTina, a boutique catering service based in Hove, said: “The festival is absolutely amazing for me. I have had two jobs out of it already.”
Seb Cole, owner at Italian ice cream company Boho Gelato, in Pool Valley, Brighton, said that the festival helps create a network of food producers in the city. He said: “It is putting Brighton on the map as a foodie destination.”
Simon Woodhead, owner at Stopham Vineyard in Pulborough, said: “The festival is crucial in helping small local producers get exposure. We don't have a lot of budget for marketing so this low-cost event really works for us.”
Geoffrey Bowden, council cabinet member for culture, recreation and tourism, said that he would be holding a meeting with the festival organisers to discuss their concerns.
He said: “The festival is part of the mosaic which attracts people to the city. We have to find a way to support it which does not financially penalise the council or the festival.”
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