A row has erupted over venue hire costs for this summer’s Madness concert in Newark.
Town councillors involved in organising the Newark Festival headline event are angry that the district council wants 5% of ticket sale revenue as payment for hire of the Riverside Park.
Last year, Newark and Sherwood District Council allowed free use of the park for the festival, which featured chart-topping band Scouting For Girls.
This year’s event, over the weekend of June 14-16, has a budget of £70,000, but that cost will now rise by up to £14,000.
That is how much the district council could receive from Madness concert ticket sales if the show sells out, as is hoped.
There are 8,000 tickets, at £35 each, available for the show on Saturday, June 15.
The extra revenue for the district council would be on top of an estimated £20,000 or more it could make through charging £5 per vehicle for carparking — tickets for which are on sale alongside the Madness tickets.
Newark Town Council leader Mrs Gill Dawn said the venue hire fee had not been budgeted for and she feared it could impede the town council’s ability to stage such a high-profile repeat event next year.
She said the district council had given an indication that while it wouldn’t be able to support the 2013 event financially, the hire fee could be waived.
She said when the town council tried to confirm this, it was told the event was viewed as a commercial one and as such would be subject to a charge of 5% of ticket sales.
Mrs Dawn said, once everyone, including the acts, had been paid, any surplus would go towards the 2014 Newark Festival rather than be kept as profit.
She added that the situation over the hire fee would not affect the Madness concert.
“We think we’ll have to grin and bear it and pay it,” Mrs Dawn said.
“The district council cabinet must be rubbing their hands with glee as they stand to make thousands of pounds for doing nothing.
“This is after they came cap in hand to us for £1/2m towards a new leisure centre, and we have given an additional £1/2m to the sports hub proposed for Elm Avenue.”
The chairman of the town environment and leisure committee, Mr Dennis Jones, said the situation had left him embarrassed to serve on the district council, where he is vice-chairman.
“The Riverside Park is land that was given as a gift to the people of Newark by the Duke of Newcastle,” he said.
“At best the district are caretakers of it. The district’s stance is appalling.”
A spokesman for the district council said: “We offered to provide Newark Town Council with free use of Riverside Park in 2012 for the planned concert involving Scouting For Girls.
“This was done as a gesture to help get the Newark Festival going as a regular event.
“It was done for one year only and the council was clear at the time that any future use would be on the basis of payment of a fee at the council’s approved charging rate.
“No request was made to the council to consider waiving the 2013 fee for the Madness concert before the booking was made and the council did not make any promise to do so.
“Many community events and charitable events have free use or only pay a limited charge but commercial events are expected to pay a commercial rate.
“The council is mindful the cost of providing facilities is met by all the council tax payers of Newark and Sherwood and commercial events should contribute a reasonable amount to the overall cost of maintaining the facility.
“The council also notes the appearance of Madness in Newark is part of a wider UK tour, which involves venues that will all be making a substantial hire charge.
“The council will benefit from a small amount of additional carparking income as a result of the concert but will bear the substantial additional cost of the stewarding and carpark management issues that will arise.
“Newark and Sherwood District Council welcomes and encourages events that help to bring more visitors into Newark and will be supporting the Newark Festival in a number of different ways.
“The council regrets a request for use of its venue was not made before the announcement about the Madness concert.
“However, the council did offer to invest additional resources in the festival which would exceed the amount it would receive in fees for the hire of the venue but the town council has not accepted that offer.”
The festival is being organised by Newark Town Council in partnership with the Liz Hobbs Group.