Mayor votes in favour of Barnard Castle bonfire cash after council split 4-4 over issue (From The Advertiser Series)
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Mayor votes in favour of Barnard Castle bonfire cash after council split 4-4 over issue
A TOWN mayor used his casting vote to back financial support for a bonfire and fireworks display after councillors were split over the issue.
Members of Barnard Castle Meet, which organises the event, asked the town council to sponsor the event to the tune of £1,500.
They said this would ensure admission to the display would remain free for children.
Three members of the Meet committee – Thom Robinson, Tom Deacon and Angela Grady – are also Barnard Castle town councillors and after speaking in support of the application, they left the room while a decision was made.
Coun Robinson, who is vice-chairman of the Meet committee, said following problems which almost led to the cancellation of last year's bonfire and fireworks on the Demesnes, a new venue had been found in the grounds of Green Lane Primary School.
“In the interest of making this event as sustainable as possible, the Meet committee levies a nominal charge on adults and although it turned a small profit last year there is always a concern that it could be a loss making initiative,” he said.
“With this in mind, the committee would like the town council to partner in the finance of this event.
“A sponsorship of £1,500 would ensure we could keep the gate price free for children.”
Town councillors were told money was available from the events budget and deputy mayor Coun John Blissett proposed the council should support the bonfire.
“It will be good for the town and the people of the town will appreciate it,” he said.
However, Couns Sandra Moorhouse, David Kinch and John Watson all expressed reservations about the lack of any supporting financial information with the Meet committee's application.
Coun Watson said: “We have to have a robust and consistent policy on donations. We have to be scrupulously fair.”
Coun Moorhouse added: “We would be giving public money to an organisation with no background information and not knowing how we are going to administer it. It would be improper.”
Coun Watson proposed an amendment asking the Meet committee to supply further information on the bonfire's finances and organisation before any decision on funding was taken.
Councillors were split 4-4, so town mayor Coun Frank Harrison used his casting vote to defeat the amendment.
A show of hands on Coun Blissett's proposal supporting the Meet was also split 4-4, with Coun Harrison using his casting vote in favour of granting £1,500.
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