Row over moves to scale back St Paul’s Carnival in Bristol
A ROW has broken out about this year's St Paul's Carnival after organisers said they want to scale it back.
The St Paul's Carnival Committee announced last month that there was not enough money available to run a full carnival on July 7. They have proposed a "procession only" event that scraps the traditional sound systems and fairground rides.
But this has not gone down well with some people in the St Paul's community, who believe the committee no longer has the backing of local people.
Save Our Carnival group members are concerned about the plan for a reduced event, particularly as this is the ever-popular carnival's 45th anniversary. They are calling for an extraordinary general meeting to solve the problem.
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Jules Davis is a former artistic director of the carnival but now a part of the Save Our Carnival group.
He said: "We recognise carnival is a uniquely special thing, the crown jewel of Bristol.
"We recognise the carnival committee had a difficult decision but the community has rejected their proposal.
"We have a window of opportunity to solve this problem.
"We're asking for the EGM involving the community, the board, stakeholders, suppliers to come together and talk about this.
"We want to postpone until we know what we're doing – we're uncertain about the detail."
Mr Davis said St Paul's residents do not see Portland Square – traditionally the starting point of the carnival – as strictly being part of St Paul's itself.
The row appears to have divided the local community, with posters appearing in residents' windows saying "no to Portland Square".
Mr Davis spoke to The Post at an event organised by the carnival committee at the St Paul's Learning Centre yesterday.
The board wanted to meet with local people to gauge public opinion before deciding whether there should be a scaled-back carnival this year or no carnival at all.
Visitors were asked to vote for one or the other, and although the vote will not be binding it will inform the committee's decision.
The results are due to be published on Monday.
The carnival committee has five volunteer members but they are always looking for more people to join – up to a maximum of 18.
Chairwoman Rebecca Gibbs said: "This has been about giving people a chance to be heard, to ask questions and have a better understanding of the challenges we are facing.
"The event has grown from 70,000 people in 2008 to 100,000 in 2011.
"We have the same amount of funding now as we had in 2008.
"There are some fundraising events taking place – there was one at Lakota and another at Blue Mountain.
"We want people to take ownership of this. It would be a shame if the adults who enjoyed carnival as children don't support the children who enjoy it now."
More information on the financial problems facing the carnival committee, and details about joining up as a volunteer, can be found at www.stpaulscarnival.co.uk.