Petworth fete discussions come under fire

Town councillors look set to draw a line under their bitter Fete in the Park funding row, tonight (May 16).

But not before chairman of the community event Tony Sneller had his views officially set down in Petworth Town Council records.

He said the council had the facts wrong and their decision to ask two fete organisers to leave the meeting was ‘unconstitutional’.

Cllr Sneller was not present when the town council made the decision to withdraw funding to the event.

Cllr Neville Fox suggested the Fete in the Park had made a profit, and donated it to other causes, which is not what the money is for.

In response, after reading a report in the Observer about what was said in his absence, Cllr Sneller read out a statement to the council at its April meeting.

“We are disappointed at the misunderstandings that formed the basis of the discussion of, and decision on, the application for a grant for the Fete in the Park,” he said.

“It is not true to say we have given our profit to other charitable causes.”

He said the organisers had made donations for ‘services rendered’ by local groups including the Petworth Red Cross and the Rotary Club..

“Without their help the fete would not be possible,” he said.

The event also holds a grand draw in aid of a designated charity, which receives 50 per cent of the proceeds raised.

“When these misunderstandings become public without correction they undermine attempts by members of the community to provide activities for the community,” he said.

Cllr Sneller also questioned the decision to ask two of the fete’s organisers to leave the meeting after they had made a presentation.

He wrote to the Observer: “If the two representatives of the community association had not been asked (unconstitutionally, according to the code of conduct adopted by the town council on January 17) to leave the meeting, then this misinformation could have been corrected.”

Charitable giving of the fete, he said, did not need to be reassessed because it did not exist.

However, he said: “Of course the town council has a duty to assess and make decisions on the grants it makes – and we respect that judgement, however uncomfortable it may be – but it should at least ensure its deliberations are based on fact.”

When the Observer contacted Cllr Sneller he made no comment and said the matter was closed.