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Morecambe's longest-running music festival under threat in row over council grant

The future of the Nice 'n' Sleazy punk festival in Morecambe is in doubt

The future of a popular music festival in Morecambe is in doubt amid a row with a council over a grant payment.

Morecambe Town Council has decided not to award funding to the Nice 'n' Sleazy punk and ska music festival after previously conditionally agreeing to pay organisers £11,500 towards the cost of running the event.

The town council said this was because organisers had not supplied completed or verified accounts, required because the council "has a responsibility to be fully accountable in its use of public money".

But Samantha Harrison, one of the Nice 'n' Sleazy organising team, said they HAD sent accounts and reports to the council, said "the goalposts had changed all the time" and it was "heartbreaking" that the grant won't be paid.

Miss Harrison said the festival (pictured below) would be unlikely to happen next year without financial support.

"It's just massively heartbreaking for us as a team," said Miss Harrison.

"We work so hard for this music event to be successful and a lot of work goes into ensuring that everything is in place, especially with having more than 60 bands over the weekend. It's very disheartening.

"Everything we have done, the council has always wanted something else. The amount of times I've reached out to Morecambe Town Council and asked them to respond to emails. There has been a lack of communication and no actual guidance.

""They have received the accounts, there are no missing accounts, we simply did not need all that was awarded. We actually only needed around £8000. Everything we've done hasn't been good enough for them."

This year's Nice 'n' Sleazy is the 17th, making it the longest running music festival in Morecambe.

It is due to take place at the Trimpell Club in Morecambe from May 24-26, with an opening night at the Exchange pub on May 23.

The annual gathering of punk music fans began in 2006 after the big 'Wasted' punk festival moved from Morecambe to Blackpool.

Miss Harrison said the festival costs up to £32,000 to run and that the grant would have helped as they were "massively out of pocket last year".

"I would imagine that unless we get some kind of financial support, it won't be on next year," she said.

In May 2023, organisers celebrated when they found out they had been awarded the grant (see picture below).

Read more: Tears of joy as Nice n Sleazy punk festival awarded £11,500 funding grant - Beyond Radio

But a Morecambe Town Council spokesperson said the award "was conditional on audited or verified accounts being supplied to the council on conclusion of the festival".

The decision not to award the grant was made behind closed doors at a Morecambe Town Council meeting.

The press and public were excluded under 'Section 1 of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960', said the council.

This was "on the grounds that publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons arising from the nature of that business or of the proceedings".

"Regrettably, the organisers are yet to provide complete audited or verified accounts," said the spokesperson, speaking after the meeting held at Morecambe Town Hall on Thursday.

"The chartered accountant tasked with doing so was unable to access the necessary evidence of payments and receipts to verify the festival’s accounts, due to the applicant’s loss of access to data required.

"Regardless of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding this occurrence, the fact is the original funding conditions have not been met. The council has a responsibility to be fully accountable in its use of public money and issuing this grant without conditions being met would not be fulfilling that responsibility. Therefore the council is not able to release payment of this grant.

"The council remains committed to supporting local festival and event producers, as evidenced by its track record and the 100% increase in festivals and events grant funding available in its 2024-25 budget.

"The organisers of Nice 'n' Sleazy are encouraged to apply again in future funding cycles, when any new application will be judged on its own merit."

The council's 'grant criteria', published on its website, says: "Organisations applying for a grant of £10,000 or more will be required to submit independently audited accounts to support their application.

"Organisations applying for a grant of £1,000 or more, but less than £10,000, will be required to submit invoices and accounts to support their application.

"All grant recipients are required to provide the council with a brief report, including photographs, of how the grant has been utilised; how it has assisted the organisation or group and what it has achieved."

Morecambe Town Council raises money through a share of Council tax paid each year by Morecambe residents, and sets a festivals and events budget each year. Festivals and events organisers can apply for grants from this budget.

The 2024/25 budget shows a rise in money for local festivals to £120,000.

Here is a list of other Morecambe festivals and events awarded and paid grants in 2023/24

More Music's Sigh of the Sea - £1000 

More Music Winter Lantern Festival - £3000

Promenade Concert Orchestra - £2000 and £2590

A Splendid Day Out steampunk festival - £6500

1940s Revival - £3500 and £3372

Bay Film Festival - £3000

Morecambe Pride - £9000

Vintage-by-the-sea - £10,000

West End Players performances - £4000

Armed Forces Day - £3500

Bare Fest/Christmas on the Crescent/Bare Village Music Festival - £2500

Kite festival - £4000

Morecambe Film Festival - £2000

Escape2Make cabaret nights - £5000

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