Run, Maintained by volunteers
Dear People of Portishead
As per our media messages we the Portishead Christmas Lights Committee have unfortunately made the very difficult decision to cancel this year’s Victorian Fayre. This decision has not been made lightly as the committee has invested a huge amount of time and effort in the organisation of the event. The committee felt that it was appropriate to explain the thinking that has led us to this decision which we detail below. Prior to that we just wanted to point out that we are a volunteer committee, any funds via donation, grants or events; go towards delivering the light display each year, (which we are thrilled to have delivered this year) and the costs of delivering the events such as Victorian Fayre. As a committee we are deeply saddened to have had to cancel this years event.
So the facts as we have them:
A little Background
The Victorian Fayre has been run by the Portishead Christmas Lights committee as a fund-raising event to support the annual display for upwards of 30 years. Over the last 5 years the cost of hosting the fayre have increased and early this year the committee chose to run the event noting it would make little or no money. This week we went further and decided to run the event at a loss in a bid to provide insurance to the stall holders that didn’t have sufficient Public Liability as per the T&C’s and NSC insurers.
The primary reason for the cancelation of the event was due to COVID-19 advice. As of yesterday, this was the only event in NSC borough that hadn’t cancelled for the weekend. We entered into discussions with NSC to work out how to proceed with the event. The advice given was to undertake a further risk assessment around COVID-19, implementing suitable measures to protect people attending the event i.e. social distancing, the encouragement of mask wearing and a way to manage crowd numbers. To do this the committee felt that it needed a significant uplift in stewards that we have and continue to struggle to find despite numerous requests and significant change to the event plan. We were also acutely aware that we did not want the event to become a ‘super spreading event’ and impact Christmas for people living in the town. Based on concerns raised by the committee to NSC and recent changes in National advice, that were due to be implemented prior and post the event (we are aware some of these changes do not affect outdoor events) and given the time frame to change the plan, the decision to cancel was taken. The ever-changing advice based around continual increase in COVID-19 infection rates and the new Omicron Variant were also contributing factors in the decision to cancel.
The secondary challenge the committee faced was that of insurance. In the event terms and conditions issued to the stall holders on signing up for a pitch we stated that £5m of public liability insurance was required, this value was specified by NSC insurers as part of our event licence. NSC contacted the committee last week and informed us that they had not received traders’ licencing applications from a small number of stalls at which point the insurance issue became apparent. NSC also notified us that enforcement team members would be attending the event with powers to issue spot fines of £2000 per witnessed item sold if a trader’s licence inclusive of insurance couldn’t be presented. The committee engaged with stall holders requesting a copy of their insurance or for a nominal fee for us to provide insurance for those that didn’t have it; we were still awaiting confirmation from a significant number of stalls as to their insurance status. The insurance cost made the event non financially viable, so to prevent disappointment the decision to run the event at a loss was taken.
We would like to thank those of you who have been supportive and ask those that disagree to be a little kinder on social media it is Christmas after all. We are volunteers and none of us have invested time that we freely give to cancel an event. We wish the People of Portishead and beyond, the Authorities we work with and our sponsor a very Happy Christmas.