criers silenced by cash cuts

Blackpool again hosted the Town Criers Championship, with criers from around the country competing for the title.
Blackpool again hosted the Town Criers Championship, with criers from around the country competing for the title.
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TOWN criers are up in arms after being told funding is being slashed from their annual competition in Blackpool.

In the past, contestants have had their accommodation paid for – including two nights at one of the resort’s top hotels last year.

But cutbacks mean this year they must pay their own way.

But the move has caused outcry among some town criers who are planning to withdraw from the 2011 event set for Saturday, July 16, in St John’s Square.

Anthony Church, town crier for towns including Banbury and Daventry, and Walsall’s Town Crier Cyril Richardson are among those threatening not to attend if there is no overnight stay thrown in.

Mr Church said: “The criers and escorts are not asking for five star luxury. All we want to do is be comfortable and put on a show for the people who live, work and visit Blackpool.”

He added; “Both Cyril and I believe expecting criers and their escorts to travel to Blackpool and return home the same day, while promoting the town for such little return by way of hospitality is detrimental and an insult to those criers and escorts who have given so much support to Blackpool over the years.”

Blackpool town crier Barry McQueen, who helps organise the Blackpool competition which has been running for around 15 years, said he was also disappointed.

He said: “A lot of the contestants who come from Devon and Cornwall probably won’t come this year. When they go to other towns at least one night’s accommodation is paid for.

“I know money is tight, but they put on a good show for visitors and it will be sad if this year not so many take part.

“I don’t want to turn it into a little tinpot competition after it has been so prestigious.”

The town centre Business Improvement District (BID) is putting £1,500 into covering the cost of a dinner, trophies and the parade.

Last year it cost £5,000 to put on the event, with expenses split between BID and Blackpool Council’s events budget.

That covered two nights free accommodation at the Imperial Hotel for contestants.

But this year there is no council funding, and the BID also has less money to allocate to the event.

BID manager Eileen Ormand said; “We will offer what we can this year but with economic hardship, jobs being lost and less money coming in, this year we cannot pay for the criers’ accommodation.

“However, we have already got 13 or 14 applications from criers wanting to take part so we are sure this year’s event will be as successful as ever.”