WHEN Basingstoke Live’s future was under threat, supporters made their views clear – and now borough council leaders have said the popular music festival WILL go ahead this summer.
A thousand-strong petition, a musical protest, and direct appeals to decision-making council chiefs at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council persuaded them not to scrap the two-day event.
On Tuesday, Councillor Elaine Still, Cabinet member for communities, sport and culture, announced that the seventh Basingstoke Live will be back in July.
The decision follows a two-month battle by campaigners to stop the event being axed.
Cllr Still, who had asked a cross-party panel of councillors to review whether Basingstoke Live should go on in 2013, was visibly delighted when her nine Cabinet colleagues unanimously backed her decision that the event should go ahead.
“It has become quite clear just how passionately people value Basingstoke Live as a chance for the community to get together as a showcase for local performers,” said Cllr Still.
“This overwhelming level of support, despite the challenges of continuing to run the event, is something that has struck a chord with me and convinced me that we should find the extra funding needed to run it safely this year.”
The proposal to ditch Basingstoke Live – which attracted 50,000 people over two days in 2011 – first emerged in November last year because there was a shortfall of £27,000 to pay for beefed-up security measures needed to control the swelling visitor numbers.
The free event was billed as a “victim of its own success”, and the council wanted to scrap it in 2013 and plough resources into the two-week Basingstoke Festival.
But the plan prompted a public backlash. A petition signed by 1,031 music lovers, demanding a u-turn, was presented to full council on December 13. Days before, nearly 100 people staged an hour-long musical protest outside the borough’s Civic Offices as councillors prepared to debate Basingstoke Live’s future.
The petition’s founder, Labour Brookvale and Kings Furlong councillor Jack Cousens, said: “I think the basis for the rethink has come on the back of people power. The petition was one half, the musical protest the other, but there were also the countless emails to councillors calling on them to reconsider.
“Now Basingstoke Live 2013 will be a great event – I have no shadow of a doubt about that.”
The £27,000 to keep Basingstoke Live running this year will be found from predicted savings from the council’s waste collection and kerbside glass recycling scheme.
However, council leader Cllr Clive Sanders said the council and organisers, the Basingstoke Live Forum, need to start planning the event’s long-term future now, adding the council could not be guaranteed to dip into its coffers in future years. It is expected the event will need to bring in sponsorship, or start charging for tickets after this year.
A special closed-door committee called a Members’ Advisory Panel has been set up to review the 2013 show, and to plan for 2014 and beyond.
“The event is getting bigger and bigger,” said Cllr Sanders. “If again, it is a success – which I hope it will be – then the working party needs to look at what it is going to do for the following year. We have to bring in additional funding because we can’t just go on annexing finances.”
Cabinet’s decision to keep the event for 2013 still needs to be passed at full council on February 5.
The date for this summer’s Basingstoke Live in War Memorial Park will be July 13 to July 14. The event will act as the finale to Basingstoke Festival, which will run from June 20 to July 14.