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Should clubs and charities be charged to promote themselves at events?

Thatcham Town Council debates stall charges at public events

Should clubs and charities be charged to promote themselves at events?

SHOULD the bedrock of Thatcham’s community be charged to fundraise and raise awareness for their good causes?  

Thatcham Town Council introduced a pitch fee of £10 for non-commercial stallholders at community events, with the exception of sports clubs offering taster sessions at Thatcham Family Fun Day.

This year’s fun day made £2,008 from pitch fees, an increase on £1,208 in 2016, with the £10 charge contributing £320.

Entertainment accounted for £888 – £395 contributed by commercial caterers and £405 from commercial stalls paying £30.

Expenditure for the event was £3,000, resulting in a net cost of £992.

But the ethical cost of the event was explored by Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) at a recent meeting.

He said: “I don’t agree with the £10 charge with not-for-profit stalls.

“Our community survives as a community on the back of a lot of work of clubs and charities.

“We are not just the town council and a lot of houses, we are a community.

“It’s built on all the movers and shakers of the community who put in a hell of a lot of work.

“It’s one of the primary events of the community.

“As such we should be encouraging not-for-profit stalls.

“If they are Thatcham-based we should be encouraging this as much as we can. 

“Some might say it’s only a tenner, but we have seen a number of clubs stop this year.

“I think this council should be here to encourage our local not-for-profit organisations and not to make money out of them.” 

The town council is looking at expanding the fun day and considering using the extra income to add a live music area. 

Saying that a live music event would “liven up the fun day”, Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “It might be it’s only £10 and I feel quite happy with that.

“We deserve to get some money in and if it enables us to expand the service on offer then I’m comfortable with that.” 

Town mayor Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) added that more than 30 organisations had paid their £10, but didn’t know of any who had refused to attend because of the charge. 

She suggested that groups be asked for a voluntary donation of £10 instead.

“If they feel they are not able to pay then they need not pay,” she said.  

“I think it’s irrelevant if they did or didn’t turn up,” Mr Cole replied. 

“My point is the encouragement we are showing by not charging in the first place.”  

Mr Cole added that the Conservative-run council had upped its precept by £62,000 last year but now seemed unwilling to waive £300 from charities.

“I would suggest we have got our priorities slightly wrong,” he said.

Rob Denton-Powell (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) said he agreed with Mr Cole and that Mrs Crumly’s suggestion was a great idea. 

However, Mr Denton-Powell turned his focus to food, saying that he found it difficult to accept that the town council only made £390 from food stalls on the day.

“I think there were some underestimates there,” he said.

Food stalls are charged 10 per cent of takings on the day.  

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