Preston’s Caribbean Carnival parade cancelled

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PRESTON’S spectacular Caribbean Carnival procession has been cancelled next month after more than 40 years.

Organisers say they can no longer afford to stage the colourful cavalcade, which sees thousands line the streets between Moor Park and the city centre.

The annual Caribbean Carnival procession

The annual Caribbean Carnival procession

Instead they will hold a “static” event complete with stunning costumes, music and food on the Flag Market on June 11.

A lack of cash has meant the end of the road for the annual procession - at least for this year.

“It’s such a shame because the parade is part of the fabric of Preston,” said carnival treasurer Carol Nevins. “Funding has all-but dried up this year. It’s a sign of the times.”

The event is Preston’s most dazzling of the year, bringing a taste of Mardi Gras to the terraced streets of the city. But the procession has become another victim of austerity Britain.

The carnival needs around £30,000 to cover the costs of security, staging, crowd management, event equipment, cleansing and road closure staffing.

Yet with no donations forthcoming from the city council, Lancashire County Council and the Preston BID team, the organisers have been forced to call off the popular parade which in past years has snaked its way between Moor Park and the city centre, featuring fabulous floats, dance troupes and Caribbean bands.

And, while a riot of colour and costumes will still provide an eye-catching show on the Flag Market, the event is unlikely to live up to past glories.

“The money just isn’t there to put on our usual event,” explained treasurer Carol.

“We get lottery funding from the Arts Council, but they only support art and culture, anything on the performance side of things. They don’t support any infrastructure costs like security and barriers.

“We need about £30,000 for our usual parade and for Moor Park. And that is a lot of money to find when sponsorship is drying up.

“We have been hanging on, hoping funds would come in. But they haven’t and so we had a meeting and reluctantly decided that the procession will have to go - at least for this year.

“We will have a smaller scale event on the Flag Market and then we will have another 12 months to see if we can raise money to bring it back next year. I hope we can.”

The cancellation of the street procession comes at the end of a torrid eight months for the carnival organisers.

Back in October they were in danger of having to bring the curtain down on the whole event when they lost two units at Oyston Mill for storing their elaborate costumes and where drance troupes practised.

But after moving three times - including a spell using storage space at Fulwood Leisure Centre - they are back at the Mill.

The not-for-profit organisation is now planning to apply for charitable status in the hope it will open up new sources of funding.

“Hopefully by just doing the Flag Market even this year it will make people aware of the situation we are in and support us,” said Carol.

Coun Peter Kelly, Preston Council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It’s a real shame that the procession isn’t happening at this year’s Caribbean Carnival. It’s a great tradition and one the whole of Preston will sorely miss.

“Nowadays, it costs many thousands of pounds to put the event on and most of these costs are associated with the procession. So, we fully support the carnival committee’s decision to stage the carnival, though not to hold the procession this year.

“We are helping the committee to put the event on and are also helping out with the annual King and Queen of the carnival event which takes place on the Flag Market on June 11.

“We’re also helping the committee in trying to find other sources of funding for the carnival. It’s a national trend unfortunately as traditional funding sources are drying up. Councils simply don’t have the money they once had so grants are far harder to come by now.

“Still, the carnival is an amazing event and I am sure there are people and funding bodies interested in working with them to put on the carnival and procession in future years.”