Swindon Mela is off this year say planners

This Is Wiltshire: Preparing for last year’s Mela are Kuldeep Johal (back), Preetan Johal, Kiran Johal and Harbrinder Johal Preparing for last year’s Mela are Kuldeep Johal (back), Preetan Johal, Kiran Johal and Harbrinder Johal

THE ANNUAL Indian celebration of culture has been cancelled this year as organisers of the Swindon Mela say they lack the funds to stage the event.

Every year the Town Gardens are transformed into a field of colour as the town comes together to celebrate Indian life and culture, but after the event was forced to be postponed last year, crucial funds were lost.

Organisers say it has been a difficult decision to cancel, but they hope to stage a series of smaller events to build up the kitty ready for next year.

Jaspal Bhui, director of the Swindon Mela, said: “At the moment the decision has been made to cancel the event this year based on a number of factors.

“Over the last few years, because of so much pressure on us from the health and safety issues and so on, the cost has just spiralled far too high.

”With last year’s fiasco delaying the event the only reason it was put on at all was because of the public support, and we did not want to let the people of Swindon down.

“The fact the event was late cost us dearly, the turnout was low and some of the stall holders dropped out. That ate into our reserves.”

Jaspal added confusion over available dates has stalled sponsorship.

“This year we have been asking for a date in the Town Gardens in August, and so far we haven’t had it confirmed,” he said. “Even though now they have said they can pencil us in for August 2 we can’t go ahead and book anything on a pencilled-in date in case it changes.”

“We don’t want to make a repeat of last year. What we are planning to do is to hold smaller events including a bowl concert at the Town Gardens and other smaller fundraising events. Hopefully that will put enough funds in to come back next year.

“It is a very sad day for us because we have been working with the event for so long. Unfortunately that is the way things are going unless we have support from the council.

“We have been contacting them for the last few months and had one of the councillors contact them on our behalf asking why we haven’t been given a date. The Mela is one of the biggest events in the calendar.

“We do not know what new restrictions they might come up with, and it takes time to resolve those issues. Time is something we do not have.”

Swindon Council said they had been attempting to support the organisers with their plans ahead of a meeting due to take place this week and were surprised by yesterday’s announcement.

A spokesman said: “We haven’t been told officially by the organisers that the Mela isn’t going to go ahead this year, and in fact there is a meeting arranged on Wednesday at which they are due to present their event management plan to us and representatives of the emergency services.

“We’re puzzled about the suggestion that the date has not been confirmed, as the organisers have known since last year that August 2 is free and has been kept open for them.

“We’re happy to help in any way we can and hope to meet the organisers as planned on Wednesday.”

Comments (10)

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7:34am Tue 10 Jun 14

Wildwestener says...

What a shame; lovely day out every year. Hope it can get back on track for next year. Best of luck folks
What a shame; lovely day out every year. Hope it can get back on track for next year. Best of luck folks Wildwestener
  • Score: 15

8:33am Tue 10 Jun 14

Chowmai says...

Really sorry to hear the Mela wont run this year it's such a fabulous family focused day.
Maybe bi-annual events are the way to go giving you an extra year to raise funds for the event.
Really sorry to hear the Mela wont run this year it's such a fabulous family focused day. Maybe bi-annual events are the way to go giving you an extra year to raise funds for the event. Chowmai
  • Score: 7

11:20am Tue 10 Jun 14

BCDR99 says...

A real shame. One of the few events that Swindon could truly hold its head up high about. This item was on the BBC website yesterday so hats off to the Adver for being right up there with the breaking news!

Also, in the BBC article, the quote from SBC was a little harsh.

"The council's responsibility is to make sure the event is safe, but the Mela is not a council event and all financial issues are a matter for the organisers."

You'd think they would be a bit more supportive of something that is as goods for Swindon as the Mela is wouldn't you?
A real shame. One of the few events that Swindon could truly hold its head up high about. This item was on the BBC website yesterday so hats off to the Adver for being right up there with the breaking news! Also, in the BBC article, the quote from SBC was a little harsh. "The council's responsibility is to make sure the event is safe, but the Mela is not a council event and all financial issues are a matter for the organisers." You'd think they would be a bit more supportive of something that is as goods for Swindon as the Mela is wouldn't you? BCDR99
  • Score: 7

12:00pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Al Smith says...

BCDR99 wrote:
A real shame. One of the few events that Swindon could truly hold its head up high about. This item was on the BBC website yesterday so hats off to the Adver for being right up there with the breaking news!

Also, in the BBC article, the quote from SBC was a little harsh.

"The council's responsibility is to make sure the event is safe, but the Mela is not a council event and all financial issues are a matter for the organisers."

You'd think they would be a bit more supportive of something that is as goods for Swindon as the Mela is wouldn't you?
The Mela rejected the diktat of SBC to hold it at Lydiard (which of course had nothing to do with SBC wanting to sell-off/lease/put in trust Lydiard). They called SBCs bluff, won, and managed to hold it successfully at the Town Gardens.

That probably makes them public enemy number one as far as SBC are concerned.

The event might not be organised by SBC but I bet the organisers pay a fair old bit of council tax, so you might imagine SBC might do something to assist.
[quote][p][bold]BCDR99[/bold] wrote: A real shame. One of the few events that Swindon could truly hold its head up high about. This item was on the BBC website yesterday so hats off to the Adver for being right up there with the breaking news! Also, in the BBC article, the quote from SBC was a little harsh. "The council's responsibility is to make sure the event is safe, but the Mela is not a council event and all financial issues are a matter for the organisers." You'd think they would be a bit more supportive of something that is as goods for Swindon as the Mela is wouldn't you?[/p][/quote]The Mela rejected the diktat of SBC to hold it at Lydiard (which of course had nothing to do with SBC wanting to sell-off/lease/put in trust Lydiard). They called SBCs bluff, won, and managed to hold it successfully at the Town Gardens. That probably makes them public enemy number one as far as SBC are concerned. The event might not be organised by SBC but I bet the organisers pay a fair old bit of council tax, so you might imagine SBC might do something to assist. Al Smith
  • Score: -3

12:16pm Tue 10 Jun 14

ChannelX says...

It is a shame, as the Mela was one of the highlight of events in Swindon over the summer months.

What I never quite understand is why the organisers don't simply charge a small entrance fee. Even a £2 a person would quite easily cover all the costs and have some money left over to donate to charity. I don't think anyone who genuinely enjoys the event would mind paying that for a day's worth of entertainment.

Seems daft to maintain a 'free entry' policy but then not actually have enough finance in place to actually put the event on.

Also, while it'll go down well in some quarters to blame the council, it strikes me as interesting the organisers are saying the council haven't confirmed August 2nd... and yet the organisers are also saying they don't have the funds to put the event on. Why would the council confirm a date for an event that the organisers themselves have said they're not going to be able to run?
It is a shame, as the Mela was one of the highlight of events in Swindon over the summer months. What I never quite understand is why the organisers don't simply charge a small entrance fee. Even a £2 a person would quite easily cover all the costs and have some money left over to donate to charity. I don't think anyone who genuinely enjoys the event would mind paying that for a day's worth of entertainment. Seems daft to maintain a 'free entry' policy but then not actually have enough finance in place to actually put the event on. Also, while it'll go down well in some quarters to blame the council, it strikes me as interesting the organisers are saying the council haven't confirmed August 2nd... and yet the organisers are also saying they don't have the funds to put the event on. Why would the council confirm a date for an event that the organisers themselves have said they're not going to be able to run? ChannelX
  • Score: 10

12:50pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Davey Gravey says...

This is something I thought sbc were right about. The event had out grown the town gardens. Digging their heels in over it and leaving it late last year was an error on the organisers part.
This is something I thought sbc were right about. The event had out grown the town gardens. Digging their heels in over it and leaving it late last year was an error on the organisers part. Davey Gravey
  • Score: -4

2:24pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Hmmmf says...

Al Smith wrote:
The event might not be organised by SBC but I bet the organisers pay a fair old bit of council tax, so you might imagine SBC might do something to assist.

The organisers will pay no more council tax than anyone else living in a similarly-banded property. The Swindon Mela Ltd is a private company, so you might imagine the SBC could be a bit hesitant in giving them public money.
[quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: The event might not be organised by SBC but I bet the organisers pay a fair old bit of council tax, so you might imagine SBC might do something to assist.[/quote] The organisers will pay no more council tax than anyone else living in a similarly-banded property. The Swindon Mela Ltd is a private company, so you might imagine the SBC could be a bit hesitant in giving them public money. Hmmmf
  • Score: 7

3:19pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Al Smith says...

Hmmmf wrote:
Al Smith wrote:
The event might not be organised by SBC but I bet the organisers pay a fair old bit of council tax, so you might imagine SBC might do something to assist.

The organisers will pay no more council tax than anyone else living in a similarly-banded property. The Swindon Mela Ltd is a private company, so you might imagine the SBC could be a bit hesitant in giving them public money.
I never mentioned money, I said do something to assist, for example like helping them prepare a risk assessment.

SBC did (and spent) a heck of a lot more for the Radio 1 Big Weekend (remember that), £500000 in fact, the debts for which were paid off using business grants. As Emma Faramarzi, the then chair of the Swindon Federation of Small Businesses, said the council should have used the grants to support businesses.

The Mela probably does more to help boost the (dire) reputation of Swindon than the Big Weekend ever did. Yet SBC don't give a ****, I bet if this was happening in another town or city the local council would help a lot more.
[quote][p][bold]Hmmmf[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: The event might not be organised by SBC but I bet the organisers pay a fair old bit of council tax, so you might imagine SBC might do something to assist.[/quote] The organisers will pay no more council tax than anyone else living in a similarly-banded property. The Swindon Mela Ltd is a private company, so you might imagine the SBC could be a bit hesitant in giving them public money.[/p][/quote]I never mentioned money, I said do something to assist, for example like helping them prepare a risk assessment. SBC did (and spent) a heck of a lot more for the Radio 1 Big Weekend (remember that), £500000 in fact, the debts for which were paid off using business grants. As Emma Faramarzi, the then chair of the Swindon Federation of Small Businesses, said the council should have used the grants to support businesses. The Mela probably does more to help boost the (dire) reputation of Swindon than the Big Weekend ever did. Yet SBC don't give a ****, I bet if this was happening in another town or city the local council would help a lot more. Al Smith
  • Score: -1

3:57pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Hmmmf says...

Al Smith wrote:
I never mentioned money, I said do something to assist, for example like helping them prepare a risk assessment.

Which costs money. Taxpayers' money. Nothing SBC does is 'free'. It's not risk assessments stopping Swindon Mela Ltd operating, it's a lack of capital, and according to their website that's due to wet and windy weather last year. Which means that the company directors have had a year to raise the necessary funds through sponsorship, advertising and donations, and failed to do so. Hardly SBC's fault, and hardly SBC's job to bail them out at the taxpayers' expense.
[quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: I never mentioned money, I said do something to assist, for example like helping them prepare a risk assessment.[/quote] Which costs money. Taxpayers' money. Nothing SBC does is 'free'. It's not risk assessments stopping Swindon Mela Ltd operating, it's a lack of capital, and according to their website that's due to wet and windy weather last year. Which means that the company directors have had a year to raise the necessary funds through sponsorship, advertising and donations, and failed to do so. Hardly SBC's fault, and hardly SBC's job to bail them out at the taxpayers' expense. Hmmmf
  • Score: 8

4:37pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Amberflame says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
This is something I thought sbc were right about. The event had out grown the town gardens. Digging their heels in over it and leaving it late last year was an error on the organisers part.
I agree. I am possibly in the minority but I thought Lydiard Park would have been a great place to move to. In all honesty I find it astonishing that such a popular event, that attracted large numbers of visitors has come to this. Are the committee out of their depth?
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: This is something I thought sbc were right about. The event had out grown the town gardens. Digging their heels in over it and leaving it late last year was an error on the organisers part.[/p][/quote]I agree. I am possibly in the minority but I thought Lydiard Park would have been a great place to move to. In all honesty I find it astonishing that such a popular event, that attracted large numbers of visitors has come to this. Are the committee out of their depth? Amberflame
  • Score: 1

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