Preston Council was ready to dip further into its pockets to ensure the city’s historic Guild went with without a hitch.
Town Hall finance bosses have revealed that by the end of this Guild year they will have spent at least £984,000 of a £2m ‘contingency fund’.
This fund has come from Town Hall reserves to underwrite any extra costs thrown up by the year of events.
It had stumped up the cash after a grant committed to the celebrations disappeared following the collapse of the North West Development Agency (NWDA).
Chief executive Lorraine Norris said the council had taken “the right decision” to replace the funds.
She said: “The NWDA wanted to invest in the Guild for a reason, it recognised the benefits this would bring to Preston.
“For this reason the council took a decision to replace the funds and maintain investment.
“There were moments when people questioned whether we were doing the right thing back in June 2010 when the credit crunch bit, and I remember a report coming to council asking them to make that commitment.
“Members took the right decision saying it was what Preston needs and anyone who has been touched by the Guild this year would agree, they were right.”
The figures, published for a meeting of the council’s Guild committee next Tuesday, show the council spent a significant amount on special metal tracks to get heavy vehicles on and off the sodden Avenham and Miller Parks ahead of last month’s main Guild programme, along with pumping equipment used to dry out the parks. Council leader Peter Rankin said the city owed “a debt of gratitude” to local businesses which sponsored parts of the Guild.
The figures showed that alongside £265,000 of cash it received from sponsors, there was a further £31,000 of sponsorship given in kind, including volunteer time.
He added: “There was also an incredible effort from volunteers with more than 200 volunteers being involved in the main Guild City Festival in September.
“The time given for free by the council’s own staff alone was worth £587,000.”
The report also shows more than £75,000 of merchandise was sold through the Visitor Information Centre at the Guild Hall before the start of last month’s main programme.
A further £19,000 was spent on merchandise during that main programme.