The Swindon Mela, which was due to take place on 13 August in the Old Town Gardens Bowl, has been cancelled due to “pressures, costs and regulation imposed on the company”.
The Mela organisational team has released the following statement regarding the cancellation:
“It is with sadness that today Swindon Mela Limited reluctantly announces that it has had to cancel the 2016 Mela. The main reasons behind this decision has been adverse pressures, costs and regulation imposed on the company at this very late stage by a small section of the local authority.
“The Swindon Mela Project Team have been planning the event for over fourteen months, working extremely hard and committing their own resources to stage the 2016 Swindon Mela. The rising costs for street trading licences imposed on individual stallholders and a 25-page application form required by the authority to allow them to attend the event has resulted in a substantial drop out from major contributing stallholders who have supported and enjoyed attending the event throughout its fourteen-year history.
“This coupled with additional regulation surrounding the closure of a number of roads in the area surrounding the venue, has resulted in heightened costs to carry out this process. This process was not confirmed as a requirement by the authority until the 1st August giving the volunteer little or no time to secure additional funding or complete the required plans to implement this.
Jaspal Bhui of the Swindon Mela said, “We are very sad for our Team, supporters of the Swindon Mela and Swindon itself but we hope our supporters will appreciate that we as an organisation rely on generous donations on the gates to support the event and with unreachable increased costs the not for profit company and voluntary supporters cannot afford to sustain a shortfall on our budget which now stands at a total of approximately £26,000. As a guide, average Mela costs in past years has been approximately £45,000 to stage and this year we had worked even harder to reduce costs.
“However, Swindon Mela will not give up on our efforts to stage a future Mela in Swindon and pledge to continue to seek out other ways to deliver a successful Mela in 2017 to our supporters and the people of Swindon who have gained so much pleasure and goodwill from our past events.”
A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “Everyone understands these days why safety at events involving large numbers of people is so important, and in previous years the Mela has attracted over 20,000 visitors. The Event Safety Advisory Group, of which the council is a part, would expect to be reassured that measures are in place to ensure the safety of every person who attends.
“The council and emergency services need information from the organisers about such things as how they will control the numbers of people visiting, how they will manage traffic and parking, and how they will deal with emergencies.
“We have been talking to the organisers for many months and explained what they need to do and by when, but they have not produced the required documents and information in time or to a satisfactory standard. We have asked for nothing different than in previous years, and we have worked hard to reduce the cost we were looking to charge them to around £1,500.
“The Council recognises that the Mela is a popular event and the decision of the organisers to cancel it can’t have been easy, but it wouldn’t be right for it to go ahead without the safety measures that authorities in every part of the country would expect to see provided.”
For information on the 2017 Swindon Mela as it becomes available please visit www.swindonmela.com