(A report by Phil Perry, Head of Place and Space)
[Councillor Alistair Arundell declared that he organised part of the Boston Bike Night event and ran the bar and that he was the Portfolio Holder for Events, but was speaking at the meeting as a Member of BTAC.]
The Town Centre Services Manager presented a report which provided an update on the 2019/20 programme for the Committee to note and options for a planned events programme for the 2020/21 financial year. The report included budgeted financial breakdowns covering both financial years, to support the Committee in its deliberations.
The Town Centre Services Manager reported that the events during 2019/20 had been fantastic once again. An additional document was circulated to the meeting with photographs illustrating the successful events held during the year. The events had been funded by BTAC and the Boston Big Local and catered for the whole family. The Events Team and Safety Advisory Group had also provided advice and support to a number of events within Boston run by external providers, which provided a more varied programme for Boston residents and drew more visitors into the town.
The report then set out three options for Members’ consideration for delivering an events programme during 2020/21. It was pointed out that the Christmas Market and Lights Switch-On event had been developed and fully funded through the Controlling Migration Fund programme, but that this funding was coming to an end during 2019/20 and would add cost to the events programme going forward.
The three options, all of which included the Christmas Market and Lights Switch-On event, were set out as follows:
· Option One: incorporates some larger scale events in addition to the existing community based events. This option aims to keep all the free community events, which people have enjoyed this year but adds/combines some of the existing larger scale events, some of which would have or could have a charge on entry. A major cost for the 2020/21 budget is the return of the Christmas Market & Lights Switch on event (not including the provision of lights) within the budget, which has recently been funded through Controlling Migration Funding. Option one, would cost BTAC an additional £27,000 for the 2020/21 financial year and a detailed breakdown of this programme is appended (Appendix B).
· Option Two: focuses on larger scale events within the BTAC funded events programme with a more limited programme of smaller scale community focussed events delivered principally through the BBL funding stream. This option could be delivered with an additional £12,000 for the 2020/21 financial year as shown in Appendix C.
· Option Three: retains the existing BTAC budget at £41,500 and the programme is reduced to retain current spending as shown in Appendix D, again this option focuses on larger scale events within the BTAC funded event programme, and a limited programme of smaller scale events funded entirely through the BBL funding.
It was noted that two events identified within all options had already been committed to for 2020 – a Teenage Market and a Through the Ages event – due to the need to make bookings in advance, though Members could consider not continuing with these events if they so wished.
The Events Team sought sponsorship where feasible within existing resources. Details and options were set out in Appendix E should a Member Working Group wish to seek additional sponsorship.
During debate, Members voiced support for the larger events, particularly the 1940s Event, Boston Show and the Party in the Park, and favoured Option 1 as the additional £27,000 would be needed to keep the existing smaller events and support the running of the larger events.
Members’ comments included the need for Members to help increase advertising of events and to interact more with local businesses, for example suggesting shops and cafes remain open during Bike Night and reference was made to the importance of the Christmas events.
It was suggested that an advertising banner would be a good value purchase. Other ideas put forward for advertising were crowd barrier covers and the sides of pool cars.
Members referred to the success of the Party in the Park in previous years and reference was made to its effect on community cohesion. In response to questions, the Town Centre Services Manager confirmed that the numbers planned for the Party in the Park were not as high as in previous years, but it could be expanded again; many events had been developed and improved over time as more people were realising that there were things to do in Boston rather than having to go outside the borough.
The Town Centre Services Manager added that it was beneficial to agree an events programme at this stage as it would allow an events leaflet to be sent out with council tax bills.
In response to questions regarding the Outdoor Cinema, the Town Centre Services Manager reported that the first two events had not made a profit, but they had learned from the experience, for example, hiring toilet facilities. The next two events had made money, with one event being a sell-out. The most recent event had been disappointing, with 200 out of a maximum of 500 tickets sold. The reasons were not clear, as the tickets prices were reasonable and there had been positive feedback from the event; however, the events were being constantly reviewed and could be replaced in time with others, such as outdoor theatre.
A Member explained that this year’s Bike Night had been relocated to Central Park because it relied heavily on volunteers and there had not been enough. Fewer volunteers were needed to hold the event in the park. Different funding possibilities would be explored with a view to holding the event in the Market Place again in future. The Town Centre Services Manager added appreciation for the hard work of the volunteers; the Events Team supported them when possible and were keen to work with them as a group.
[Councillor Brian Rush left the meeting at 8.25 pm]