Area Committee Two: Councillors vote to help fund Woodford Festival

Volunteer organisers of the Woodford Festival said without Area Committee Two’s decision to award it £6,000 they would have found it “very difficult” to fund this year’s event.

Councillors at Tuesday’s meeting at Sir James Hawkey Hall, Broomhill Road, Woodford Green, were initially split on the exact amount to award the nine-day festival but there was a vote in favour of the application by five councillors to four.

The money will go towards the total cost of the biennial festival, which is £13,390, and will enable organisers to put together both daytime and evening events.

Ron Wortley-Millek, 67, the festival’s co-ordinator, said: “It is very important we get the funding.

“Firstly, we always spend our grants completely, and secondly if we do not get money from the council it is very difficult to go ahead and get match-funding from other companies and charities.

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“They want proof that you have been recognised by the council for funding. If we had not obtained funding on Tuesday, we would have had to try the Big Lottery Fund - but it is very difficult from them because they want new projects. They will not sponsor events which are ongoing, like ours.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Ian Bond (Liberal Democrat, Roding), who voted in favour of the application, said: “I am very happy to fund Woodford Festival.

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“To do it every two years is a realistic proposition and unlike some of the other festivals in the borough it is done entirely by volunteers.

“The volunteers do a sterling amount of work. We should support it in every way we can.

“It is a very good event for Woodford. It is nine days of culture and a showcase for all the artistic talent we have in our area.”

Cllr Hugh Cleaver (Lib Dem, Church End) had hinted that if the festival did not receive the full funding from the committee, his ward would receive “part of” the sum.

Festival coordinator Anny Wortley-Millek, of Forest Approach, Woodford Green, was keen to thank the committee for its continued support.

Mrs Wortley-Millek said: “This is the sixth Woodford Festival. We often go to the Area Two committee to get funding and so far they have never let us down.

“There is always a lot of discussion - the minority [of the councillors] think that in these times of austerity we do not need to do things like Woodford Festival.”

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