Event costs catering businesses £1000s

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Businesses which provided catering for this year’s popular Galtres Parklands Festival are owed thousands of pounds by its organisers, it can be revealed.

James Houston, chief organiser of the three-day event at Duncombe Park, Helmsley, admitted the music festival has experienced “trading difficulties in recent years.”

It is understood the festival, which attracted performers such as The Human League and The Levellers during August Bank Holiday Weekend, was faced with debts of nearly £200,000 before this year’s event.

There is, however, a “firm intention” to pay all suppliers in full while it was announced that plans to hold next year’s 11th annual festival are “well underway.”

But out-of-pocket caterers have taken to social media websites to voice their anger at the situation and revealed they are taking legal advice and contacting North Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards in an 
attempt to hold the organisers to account.

Peter Stark, of The Wall, Coulton, estimates he is owed £1,600 from the weekend.

“At the moment we have no money outside of the promises we have to pay us back in a year’s time,” he said. “Myself and other traders are out of pocket. I don’t think we will get our money back - not in full. We want to let people know so they won’t be in the same boat in the future.”

This year saw a “cashless” system of payment introduced for festival goers where they paid money onto a “smart card” and used it to buy food and drink.

The business arrangement should have seen 20 per cent of the money retained by the festival to cover pitch fees with the remaining 80 per cent paid to businesses within a week.

However, in a statement on the festival website, it was revealed that Galtres Festival Trading Ltd, the subsidiary operating company which was looking after the cash, has ceased trading and started issuing letters to creditors - meaning the caterers’ money had effectively gone.

Jane Johnson, trustee of the Galtres Festival Charitable Foundation, said: “It’s been tough going in recent years to make this event pay for itself.

“Successive years of bad weather haven’t helped. We’ve decided that the best thing for the future is to start anew, safeguarding revenues and focusing on improving the business model.

“We believe that the event potentially has a highly profitable future, provided a check is kept on costs, and sales continue to grow. The festival’s popularity is at an all-time high, and if we can capitalise on that popularity the event will have a bright and prosperous future.”

Mrs Johnson added: “This restructuring is not in any way a means of not paying people. On the contrary it’s our firm intention to pay all suppliers in full at the earliest opportunity. It’s about safeguarding revenues. Our event has a hugely positive economic impact on the region, and we are determined to see that continue.”

Paul Ainley, who runs the Pickled Porker, a York-based “pop-up” cider house and eatery, said: “I am hopeful we will get our money, but realistically my head is telling me we will be very lucky if we do so.

“We are taking legal advice, we are about to contact trading standards and the police. Even though, the police may class it as a civil matter, we are hopeful they will look into it.

He said they are owed £3,600 from the weekend at which he and his wife worked a pair of 20 hour shifts and a third 24 hour shift.

“We have never ran into anything like this before, it’s unheard of. We have done food festivals, farmers markets and agricultural shows - this is a complete one-off.”