After years of mismanagement and scandal, Pride finally appears to be heading in the right direction - but there are still concerns some aspects of next year's event may be at risk.

Withmore than 30,000 paying for tickets to the fenced-off area in Preston Park, this year saw tens of thousands of pounds raised local good causes and an estimated £13.5 million brought into the city's economy.

Next year's event looks set to be even bigger as organisers are asking for permission to extend the main event by four hours.

But beneath the surface, there are worries. Central to it all is a £25,000 grant from Brighton and Hove City Council which is set to be withdrawn.

Organisers of the Pride remain silent on the issue, keen not to alienate the local authority before it votes on whether or not to hand over control of Preston Park on the first weekend of August for the next three years.

But behind the scenes, The Argus understands politicians are being lobbied hard to ensure that at least some form of taxpayer grant is preserved for future events.

James Ledward, of Gscene magazine, is one of the few people who would talk openly about the issue.

He said: “After years of losing money Pride has been run for the last two years by people who have financial acumen and are keen to produce an event for the city which benefits LGBT organisations that can demonstrate they are providing effect front line services to the LGBT community.

“The model needs to be given the chance to prove it is sustainable and this won't happen by removing a grant that is essential to its cash flow.

“All that will do is put the Pride parade at risk in 2014.”

It is just another bump in the rocky road for a celebration which is now entering its third decade.

Pride events in Brighton and Hove have taken place intermittently since the 1970's as the city's LGBT community celebrated being open in their sexuality.

In 1992 it was formalised into the event that is the basis for the current celebration.

After years of fallouts and financial difficulties, Pride appeared to be on its knees in 2012 with documents indicating a £200,000 debt.

But, a small group galvanised the event, turning the main Preston Park party into a ticket-only event with some of the proceeds going towards local groups.

This year, for the first time a new arts and film festival took place in the two weeks before the Pride weekend More than 60 organisations took part in the parade on Saturday morning with about 34,000 attending the Preston Park event.

The remaining crowds attended bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants around the city.

It is due to this success that council bosses have decided to withdraw its annual grant support.

However, it maintains that it is not abandoning the event claiming that the non-financial support it does provide totals more than £60,000.

But despite this, it still costs about £400,000 to set up the event in Preston Park, not to mention the salaries of those organising it.

In an effort to help make the event more sustainable, the council has suggested Pride organisers use the infrastructure in Preston Park on Friday and Sunday, either side of the Sunday event.

In a statement, Paul Kemp, of the Pride community interest company, said: “We hope to expand the programme of LGBT cultural events and explore new elements to maximise the use of the park event infrastructure by creating a weekend of fundraising activities.

“These may include a comedy performance on the Friday & the possibility of a Sunday afternoon "Proms on the Park" style event.

“Plans are very much in the exploratory stage but it is our intention that any future developments would broaden the entertainment offering of Pride weekend to appeal to a greater cross-section of Brighton's diverse communities.”

The fate of the £25,000 grant, and the plans to make Pride bigger and better for the coming years, will take place on at a town hall meeting on Thursday.

Opposition councillors could unite and outvote the Green administration to reinstate the money.

But with the local authority facing budget cuts of more than £20 million of savings, finding the money may be difficult.

So what does the council contribute to Pride? 

For 2014, Brighton and Hove City Council will not provide a £25,000 grant to Pride organisers.

However, it said it still supports Pride. This includes: 

  • not charging a fee for the use of Preston Park - usually £1 per head which in 2013 totalled £35,000
  • use of council premises licence £5,000
  • resident liaison support £5,000
  • not charging a fee for Madeira Drive £8,000
  • not charging for suspension of parking bays incurred by the Parade route £2,900
  • additional cleaning on the Parade route and post Pride clean up £8,000
  • significant officer time devoted to ensuring the safe delivery of the event

Should the taxpayer pay for Pride? 

Green councillor Geoffrey Bowden

“We are massive supporters of Pride and are particularly pleased that the ticketed format for the event is delivering a healthy surplus and allowing LGBT charities to benefit from grants administered by the Rainbow fund.

“This year's Pride's fundraising initiatives broke all previous records, so far generating £43,103 for donation to local LGBT and HIV causes.

“Indeed, in the face of the continuing squeeze on funds from central government to local authorities such as Brighton and Hove, it is essential that major events such as Pride become sustainable.

Pride CIC has demonstrated that it has a financially sustainable model, which we applaud.

“We continue to work closely with Pride organisers to ensure the longer term future of the event and are currently looking at proposals for 2014. We are also proposing to grant landlord's consent for the organisers to stage the parade and event in the park for three years. The impact of such a move will be to provide the organisers with greater stability and strengthen their position to bring on board long term sponsor support.

“The £25,000 we set aside this year was a ring-fenced contingency fund in case it was needed to ensure the viability of the event.

“Some of this was used to ensure the safety of the Gay Village Party. The Pride event itself did not require any support from the contingency fund beyond some assistance around managing cash-flow.

“While Pride is self financing, the authority continues to make very significant contributions of support, this year worth nearly £64,000.

“We also still provide grants to small scale LGBT organisations wishing to take part in the Parade as we have done for many years.”

Conservative councillor Geoffrey Theobald

“I am a great supporter of the Pride festival and have always tried to do what I can to help if difficulties arise.

“I recently met with the organisers and I am pleased to say that the Conservative Group supports their call to reinstate the grant which enables the annual parade through the city to take place.

“Brighton and Hove's Pride is an internationally renowned event which, last year, was attended by 160,000 people and contributes an estimated £13.5 million to the local economy, in other words, money in the pocket for our local businesses and traders.

“It also generates significant sums of money for local LGBT and HIV good causes - over £43,000 last year.

“In an ideal world the whole of Pride would be self-financing but this is such an important event for the city that this grant is a relatively small price to pay for its continued success.”

Labour councillor Warren Morgan 

“Pride is an essential event in the city's calendar bringing millions to the local economy, and we are totally committed to do all we can to ensure its long-term future.

"The council currently provides support through fees it waives and helping to meet other costs. I've met with Pride leaders to look at ways of ensuring Pride can get through the next three years and become a sustainable, self-funding event.

"I'd like the city council to be able to help Pride and events like it, but over £100 million in government cuts to our funding in the next four years makes that very difficult.”