THE BUDGET for Cwmbran’s annual ‘Big Event’ festival could be increased to £30,000 next year, with a park and ride scheme also considered.
The free event, organised by Cwmbran Community Council, attracted around 10,000 people to the town’s Boating Lake when it took place on June 10 this year, and has been described by events and outreach officer Stephanie Kopec as a “huge success”.
The council’s Events and Community Project Committee has now considered Ms Kopec’s review and approved in principle upping the budget by £5,000 to £30,000.
Staging this year’s event cost it £27,738.29, and brought in an income of £5,587.92 from sponsors, a funfair and stalls but Ms Kopec has warned that level cannot be guaranteed.
The additional £5,000 would cover extra staff, enhanced children’s entertainment – including paying for the borough council’s Torfaen Play service – and a possible park and ride service to help address long-standing concerns around parking.
It would also include an extra £1,500 for a larger stage, to allow a greater variety of performers, and covering the cost of local groups that have attended for free.
This year’s event had benefited from the larger stage, as the provider had been double booked, which Ms Kopec said better accommodated larger groups.
It was headlined by Moonstorm, described as playing “popular music that everyone could sing along to” and local band No One Knows, but the report said the council hasn’t paid for local choirs, brass bands and dance groups.
Ms Kopec said in her report: “I would suggest perhaps offering to cover costs for them attending as Henllys Pipes & Drums had to pay out to hire a van to attend. Having two professional bands on stage set a good atmosphere, but it would be nice to have the option of including a variety performance also.”
The report also recognised issues with parking at the event, which it said has “always been a challenge”, and has suggested investigating the possibility of a park and ride service “to reduce traffic and disturbance to local residents” as well as encouraging visitors to cycle or walk.
If the park and ride plan was to proceed it could see the council pay for the hire of the Circus Field, for use as a car park, with three buses to take visitors there and back throughout the day. The committee will consider the proposal at a later date so other options can also be reviwed by council staff.
Stewards were placed on nearby residential roads this year to “deter irresponsible parking” and direct drivers to additional parking including at Llanyrafon School which was manned by volunteers and council staff.
But the report said to replicate this will require additional workers to “free up (the council’s) own staff to interact with stall holders and residents at the event.”
The report also stated that the borough council run Greenmeadow Community Farm, which has been closed since autumn last year ahead of delayed planned investment to create new attractions, was unable to attend the event “due to staffing issues”. Redundancies were announced in May when Torfaen council confirmed it wouldn’t be able to reopen the attraction as planned this year.
The committee has agreed to employ five additional members of staff to cover the event and extend children’s activities past the park area while the plans to increase the event budget, and for a larger stage, were agreed in principle but will be subject to a consultation on inclusion in the council’s 2024/25 budget.
It was also agreed to look at the environmental impact of providing more bins on the site.