Split threatens future of Blackpool carnival

Blackpool CarnivalBlackpool Carnival
Blackpool Carnival
This year's Blackpool Carnival is under threat after a bitter row and serious allegations have hit the organisers.

Last year’s event proved to be a huge success with hundreds of people watching and taking part in a parade on the Promenade and entertainment at the Waterloo Headland in the sunshine.

But dark clouds are hanging over the repeat family fun day and several charities and other community organisations have said they will not take part unless the row is resolved.

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Problems began after a new committee was voted in last August at the annual general meeting.

Since then the new chairman Geoff Moore has registered Blackpool Carnival Limited as a private company, leading some former committee members to worry that the organisation is no longer solely a community group.

Former chairman, magistrate Donna Jackson, has written an email to people who took part in last year’s event warning them about the company and detailing why she no longer wants to be associated with the committee.

But current committee members say that no impropriety has taken place and that they are determined to make sure the carnival goes ahead on July 22.

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Donna Jackson said: “The Blackpool Carnival Committee chairman has registered Blackpool Carnival as a private limited company at Companies House, with Messrs Geoffrey Moore and Barrie Thompson as directors with ownership of shares.

“Blackpool Carnival was established as a “not for profit community event”, not a company.

“Furthermore they are using Blackpool Council premises at 81C Church Street as their registered address. This too is untrue and misleading. The Carnival has no connection with that address whatsoever and is not affiliated by Blackpool Council.

“Recent Blackpool Carnival Facebook posts referred to their charity status. Blackpool Carnival is not a registered charity and never has been.

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“Blackpool Carnival Committee had been using CIC on their website domain name – this indicates that they are a Community Interest Company, which they are not.”

She said she has notified the police, Action Fraud, the Charities Commission, the CIC Regulator and Trading Standards at Blackpool Council. Lancashire Police confirmed a complaint had been made. A spokesman said: “We have received a complaint and given words of advice.” Companies House records show that Blackpool Carnival Limited was incorporated on September 21, 2017 with Geoffrey Barry Moore of Blackpool and Adrian Barrie Thompson of Manchester as directors and shareholders.

Emails seen by The Gazette reveal that several organisations have pulled out of this year’s event.

The Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Support Charity wrote: “Further to the various e-mails bouncing back and forth over your internal issues.,The Trustees of the Swallows Head & Neck Support Group have decided that we do not wish to be part of the Blackpool Carnival and request you remove our details from your database.”

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David Lowe, chairman of the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity, said: “After discussing the current situation with regards to the carnival, we feel that our charity cannot get involved until all issues are resolved.” Rev Tracy Charnock from Holy Trinity and St Peter’s CE Churches said: “Holy Trinity and St Peter’s Churches will not be supporting the Blackpool Carnival.”

Chris Curtis,from the Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Support Charity, said today: “I think the concept of the Carnival is a brilliant one and we had a great time last year taking part.

“But we don’t think people should use it to make money out of and some of the posts on social media have been nasty.

As a charity we cannot be associated until this is all sorted out.”

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Geoff Moore today said the company was only set up in the wake of the bitter fall-out following the AGM committee change vote to prevent anyone else taking the name.

He said: “A small group of other people made it clear very early on that they would stop at nothing to ensure the Carnival either didn’t happen at all or if it did, it would have little or no support.

“At that time there was every likelihood that they would organise another carnival under the same banner, Blackpool Carnival, which would have been ridiculous for all concerned and would do Blackpool as a whole no good whatsoever.

“Discovering that Blackpool Carnival Limited was available, I purchased this company, it is a shell company, it is in the same state now, as it was when it was purchased and if and when the Blackpool Carnival committee, decide they would like to use this as the vehicle to become a charity or a CIC, this company will be gifted to the committee for this purpose, if not it will stay as it is, a shell of a company.

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“There can only be one Blackpool Carnival and there is only ever one Blackpool Carnival Limited and this guaranteed that no other rogue organisation could use this for their own purposes.

“We are a dedicated committee of passionate Blackpool residents and business owners working endless hours, attending many meetings all to promote the event happening on Sunday, July 22, absolutely voluntarily for the benefit of the local community and Blackpool as a whole.

“I would trust that Blackpool,the local community, businesses, local groups will come together as one to help create an event that Blackpool as a community and a town can be proud of, an event incidentally that will bring millions of pounds into the local economy.

“Once that has happened, we shall welcome any investigation of whatever kind anyone person or group want, the most important thing now for us as a committee, is that the event goes ahead and is equally as successful as last year and regardless of the difficulties that we have been continually faced with since last August, we are determined that we achieve this.”

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Tony Jones, another member of the committee said: “It has been a long ongoing battle. The committee is determined the carnival will go ahead in one way or another.

“People are making accusations that are basically not true. It is very sad and shames Blackpool.”

He said the company set up had no connection to the committee and that the original bank account set up for the Carnival last year with NatWest was completely separate.

“There are actually a couple of companies that people have set up in the past for whatever reason with Blackpool Carnival in their name. Blackpool Carnival is a community organisation and any monies will go towards the carnival only. Money from last year is still held in the account and the committee is open to audit at any time.”