Conservative Councillor Jason Budd has expressed his disquiet over the process followed in awarding £10,000 to the Bristol Gay Pride Festival.
The revenue budget amendment was moved by Labour Members at Tuesday’s Full Council Meeting and used funding for this purpose by mostly making cuts to the Authority’s corporate communications and public relations budgets.
Last year, the Mayor endorsed Officers’ recommendations to remove this event from the accredited list of Key Arts Providers and rejected the organisers’ request for £40,000 to help put on the colourful Pride week in early July.
Whilst acknowledging the valuable contribution this annual celebration now made in enhancing Bristol’s civic and cultural life, the Tories abstained from backing the proposed grant when the matter was eventually put to a vote.
Cllr Budd (Con, Kingsweston) said: “Speaking as a gay man, I am immensely proud of what has been achieved in changing attitudes in our city towards the LGBT community.
“Pride week has now grown to be one of our major tourist events which has gained national recognition and helps to promote the unique and quirky Bristol brand.
“I was personally involved running the fore-runner of this festival and can testify how hard it was in the early days to get acceptance and support.
“That said, I have profound doubts that a budget amendment represents a sensible or fair way of allocating funding. There are always a host of worthy causes which deserve to be helped so it is essential that rigorous and thorough criteria are applied to any or all grant applications.
“I am afraid to say that Labour’s rather crude and arbitrary proposal to simply chuck some council cash in the direction of the ‘We are Fest (Pride)’ organisers is straight out of what might be called the ‘Kid’s Company’ book of accounting and auditing.
“There is no explanation as to how this particular figure was arrived at or, indeed, what the money is to be spent on.
“This move sets a wrong precedent and opens the door to future private lobbying for funding when traditional allocation routes have failed or been exhausted.
"Sadly, however much one may personally appreciate Pride, this cannot be regarded as an appropriate way forward.”
CONTACT JASON BUDD tel: 07894906671