Chorley Council has defended its spending on staging events in the borough, after figures revealed that they cost the authority £29,000 more than expected last year.
The council had set aside £84,000 for its calendar of events during 2018/19, but after deducting income generated by the attractions, the total cost came in at £113,000, a meeting of the full council heard.
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However, the Chorley Flower Show – the centrepiece of the borough’s annual attractions – came within budget for the first time last year – in spite of the second day of the weekend event being cancelled due to bad weather.
Conservative opposition leader Martin Boardman wanted to know what was being done to drive down the cost of the events – “fantastic as they are at bringing a lot of people into Chorley”.
Deputy leader of the Labour-run authority, Peter Wilson, said the council was getting more savvy about staging events for less.
“It’s a combination of increasing income where you can and running events in a more efficient way,” Cllr Wilson said.
“That partly comes with experience and also with the physical infrastructure we [now] have in place for events – one-off buys which we can use again and again.
“These events are never all going to be cost neutral or make money. We take a decision to put on events for the wider long-term benefit of Chorley.”
The meeting heard that the majority of last year’s overspend came as a result of the reintroduction of the Astley Park bonfire and Picnic in the Park events, which had not been expected to take place and so did not have a budget set aside for them.
The Christmas ice rink attraction also cost £21,000 more than expected due to higher rental and running costs.
But the Chorley Flower Show came in £10,000 under budget for the first time in the four years which it has been running, generating £106,000 in income. The 2018 event cost £136,000 to stage, against a budget of £40,000.
Cllr Wilson told the meeting that changes to the format of the flower show for this year’s event – which takes place this weekend – were likely to lead to it bringing in more income. It emerged last year that the council had spent £190,000 staging the horticultural show since it began in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Chorley Grand Prix – which did break even in 2018 – has this year been replaced with the Chorley 10K, which is expected to be cheaper to run and more popular.