A Punch and Judy show has been axed after a council slashed funding for the beachside performance.

Organisers of the traditional show on Eastbourne seafront say their show, which has been running for over a century, will not go ahead this year, calling it the “end of an era”.

Now, a petition is looking to save the show and stop it becoming the victim of council spending cuts.

Ray Sparks, who has run the seafront show near Wishtower Slopes for the past 34 years, said: "When you consider how long Punch and Judy has been going in this country it's very, very sad. 

"It's a free day out for children, kids are expensive and we help to entertain them for a day. We sometimes have 200 or 300 people in the audience.

"If the council are able to re-instate the funding then that would be great. If not, I would say 'give us one more day' so we can do a farewell show. We will do it and give any money we get to charity."

In a statement on social media Ray Sparks, who also makes all the puppets himself, said Eastbourne Borough Council would no longer cover the costs of the show each summer.

Previously the council had covered the costs to run the show each summer including the costs of using the site.

The Argus: Ray's Punch and Judy showRay's Punch and Judy show (Image: Ray Sparks)

He added: “The shows were in fact a day out for people to bring their children, grandchildren and in some cases great grandchildren to what is basically a free day out with picnics in a time when childcare is an expensive thing while they are on holiday.

“We are not in a position to cover our own expenses and would certainly not expect the general public to.”

Ray added that the council had offered them a free pitch for the show but that they had “reluctantly declined” as they could not cover the other costs associated with the show.


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He said the Punch and Judy show on Eastbourne seafront had been running since the “early 1900s” and had been run by himself and his wife Jacqui for the past 34 years.

He called the decision to cut the show the “end of an era”, adding that he often saw couples with their children who came down year after year.

Ray said that he was "blown away" when one couple brought their children from Newbury just to see the show. Another woman would also bring her Brownie pack each year to see the show.

A Change.org petition set up to try and save the show so far has over 250 signatures.

A spokesman for Eastbourne Borough Council said: “Councils up and down the UK are dealing with unprecedented financial pressures. Many authorities, including Eastbourne, are dealing with soaring costs associated with homelessness and temporary accommodation.

“It is therefore inevitable that tough decisions are required to protect the frontline services that our residents rely on.

“While we do not have the budget to support Punch and Judy, we have offered the operators a rent-free year to help them continue on the seafront.”