Whitstable Harbour Day faces the axe in 2016 due to funding fears

The future of the popular Whitstable Harbour Day hangs in the balance due to uncertainty over funding.

Set up in 1992, the annual event attracts thousands of people who descend on the harbour to enjoy live music and entertainment while helping raise money for charities.

But organisers say doubts over funding and major repair work at the South Quay could mean next year’s event being cancelled.

Graham West, of West Whelks, and his mother Jean have been running the harbour day for more than 20 years.

Whitstable Harbour Day

Whitstable Harbour Day

Mr West said: “We need enough room and the right amount of funding.

“We’re still not quite sure if it will go ahead. It’s subject to finance because we rely a lot on Canterbury council, the county council and the Harbour Board.

“It normally costs about £2,000-£3,000. We don’t do it to make money – I lose money – but a lot of charities rely on the day to raise funds and it’s good for the harbour.”

Mr West said Canterbury City Council usually pays for the toilets, printing and other crucial services.

“They pay for a lot,” he said.

“But they don’t know how much money they have got for next year and whether they can fund these things so we’ll have to wait until the budget in March/April.

“Kent County Council has given us a grant for two years but I don’t think we can get another one and Vattenfall is giving us 50 per cent of what we had last year, so that leaves us £1,200 short.

“I’ve sent quite a lot of letters to quite a few companies. We only need one of those to come back and say yes and we’ll be up and running financially.”

Mr West said he was disappointed with the lack of financial support from harbour traders.

He said: “We received just £100 from them (last time) which is not enough.

“They want the money brought in from the day, they want it to go ahead, but they want us to pay for it. If it doesn’t go ahead they will be really upset.

“People say it’ll be a crying shame if it’s cancelled but when I talk about funding they turn their backs.”

Mr West said they were unable to make a decision until March next year when the council knew how much money it would have to spend.

But he said even if the authority could help with funding, the development at the South Quay could scupper the event, which is due to be held in August 2016.

Repair work involving the renewal and replacement of the quay walls and South Quay area is currently underway, which has seen the temporary removal of the Harbour Village.

“Once we find out about funding, then we need to find out if we’ve got enough room,” Mr West said.

“Once they finish the work we can see if everything is back to where it should be and if we can go ahead. We can’t locate the event somewhere else as that will end up costing more money.

“We’ll know more in March.”

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