THE FUTURE of Basingstoke Live remains uncertain after Conservative councillors refused to back calls to start immediate planning for an event next year.
The Tories on the community wellbeing committee rejected a Labour-led opposition motion, and instead asked for the formation of a special panel to discuss if it is feasible to stage Basingstoke Live in 2013. The Conser-vatives were able to get their way because Tory committee chairman Cllr Robert Taylor exercised his casting vote after the 12-strong group were deadlocked.
But some councillors believe reported problems with Basingstoke Live – a growing rise in anti-social behaviour, no lead co-ordinator following the resignation of Drum Runners after 2012’s event, and a £27,000 funding shortfall for increased security – need to be ironed out before giving next year’s event the green light.
Over the course of the three-and-a-half-hour meeting, the committee stated its support for a Basingstoke Live event next year, but some feared it could be too late to start organising the event.
“I am nervous about locking into saying we are going to have an event in 2013,” said Conservative councillor Graham Round.
His colleague Cllr Stephen Peach added: “I support Basingstoke Live and I would be ashamed to remove that from people. This (Conservative proposal) recommends that future efforts be made in bringing forward a basis on which Basingstoke Live can proceed in 2013.”
But Labour councillor Tony Jones and Liberal Democrat Cllr Michael Bound both said the Conservative move was akin to “kicking Basingstoke Live into the long grass.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Gavin James said forming a new single issue panel (SIP) would take up too much time.
“A lot of the planning is beyond us as councillors – it takes experts,” he said. “The officers need to plan and organise it. We might have to fight for the money, but the experts need to be setting it up, and that ball needs to start rolling now. Meeting as a SIP to set our terms of reference in the middle of January is not going to cut it.”
Cllr James added: “Basingstoke Live is when the best of Basingstoke is on show. I would be devastated if Live dies.”
Labour’s Cllr Jack Cousens said the committee should recommend that “officers continue to plan and organise for Basingstoke Live 2013” to ensure it would go ahead.
“It is an event when the town loses the tag ‘Boringstoke’, and we have a chance to showcase the wealth of talent in our borough,” said Cllr Cousens. But his motion was voted down by the Conservatives.
UKIP councillor Stephen West said the council should use its £3.5million budget underspend to fund the £27,000 shortfall needed for additional security measures, while Labour deputy leader Cllr Paul Harvey said funding issues affecting Basingstoke Live were “not insurmountable”.
At the end of the meeting, the Conservatives voted through a recommendation to set up a SIP which will look at whether it is possible to get Basingstoke Live up and running for 2013.
The recommendation will be passed to Councillor Elaine Still, the borough council’s community, sport and culture chief. She still has the option of shelving the event, or she could opt to set up the SIP.
Following the meeting, Laurence Hoare, one of the driving forces behind Basingstoke Live, said he was still optimistic that the event would go ahead next year.
“We have a really good chance, not for 2013 but for many years,” he posted on networking site Facebook.
“Right now, things are looking much better than they have for years.”we have a really good chance - not just for 2013 but for many years - so ! please bear with me.. bear with us.. right now today things are looking much better than they have for *years*we have a really good chance - not just for 2013 but for many years - so ! please bear with me.. bear with us.. right now today things are looking much better than they have for *years*